Heartstrings, Ltd. celebrated its 13th birthday in new digs on October 1. Its “second” grand opening had been held August 14, in a new, roomier location.
Owner Lynn Watts says she and husband Kevin purchased the building at 218 North Broadway in November 2011. They spent the next many months remodeling the building, tastefully decorating it, and also taking care of necessary work like a new sewer system, heating and cooling.
Back to the beginning: Lynn, a former teacher, said the school had cut her hours to less than part-time, and she was considering her next move.
On July 20, 1999, Michelle Pulscher’s birthday, Watts and Pulscher talked about starting a business.
“It started out with the plan to be part-time for both of us. We each had young children. About that time, ‘coffee bars’ were becoming popular, and we considered combining that with gift items.”
Both women enjoyed the creativity involved. They researched merchandise available, and forged ahead.
They found a building to rent just to the south of DeRouchey Vet Clinic. An old building, it had once been a western wear shop called Top Drawer, followed by Frameworks Plus before sitting empty for some time. Way back when, the building had housed a bowling alley, among other things, according to maps of the streets/buildings compiled by the late George Niederauer.
Heartstrings, Ltd. (Coffee & Treasures) held its “first” grand opening October 1, 1999. Watts remembers it was Miller’s homecoming day, and a wet, slushy snow fell.
“My mom and I did crafting we called Heartstrings before the store became a reality, and it seemed a perfect name for the store.”
Watts and Pulscher both enjoyed the displaying and staging of their merchandise. And they learned along the way.
“We were supported (by customers) very well,” Watts says. They had local loyal patrons, as well as people from out of the area who enjoyed the variety of merchandise and the coffees and snack items available. “We provide a personal touch that our customers really appreciate. They always feel welcome.”
However, as Heartstrings continued to thrive, it became apparent a larger building was needed. “We had no back door. We had two storage units, where we had to store out-of-season merchandise.”
Pulscher, says Watts, was her Heartstrings partner for 12 of its 13 years. Pulscher sold her share of the enterprise to Lynn and Kevin last year.
The new Heartstrings building has been part of the Miller landscape for many years, and housed such enterprises as a restaurant and “McCoy’s Dance Hall” at one time. It was the Habicht’s Store for many years, and was the location for Jones Drug from 1984 until it closed. For a period of time, VS Variety used the space, followed by Nicole’s Closet and Deb’s Designs. The building then sat empty for some time.
Today, there are nine part-time employees, in addition to Watts. With the expanded room, more merchandise can be displayed, and there is also much more storage room and work area. Laughed Watts, “The bigger the ‘monster,’ the more it takes to feed it. Everything is much roomier, but we also have more merchandise.”
Watts says she strives to provide a variety of merchandise, and to fit a variety of budgets and interests.
Most of the year, Heartstrings’ hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays. However, this week, the excitement builds, because the Holiday Open House will be held Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 8-10. Hours are from 1 to 9 p.m. Thursday, 9-5 Friday, and 9 to 4 Saturday.
“We’ve been doing this for several years. The store is closed Monday through Wednesday so we can get everything set up, and the windows are covered, which builds the excitement.”
When the doors open Thursday, Watts says, everything will be completely changed to holiday merchandise. There will also be door prizes, and tasting of Rothchild’s gourmet dips and spreads.
In addition, the store will be open every Thursday evening (with the exception of Thanksgiving) until Christmas, and will include “Christmas on the Prairie” hours on December 6.
Watts and her Heartstrings “family” welcome friends old and new to visit their new location, the Holiday Open House, and the special holiday evening hours prior to Christmas. Christmas is in the air, and Heartstrings is already in the holiday spirit.
Jaimi M Lammers | The Miller Press
Kevin and Lynn Watts will celebrate Heartstring’s thirteenth annual Christmas Open House in their new store beginning Thursday running through this weekend.