Businesses pool resources for joint ventureAn opportunity presented itself in the strip mall south of town. Debbie Morales, owner of Heidi’s Hallmark in New Richmond, had been located at 1655 Dorset Lane, but was looking at larger spaces.
By: Julia Ybarra-Young, New Richmond News
Lisa Bensen was faced with a difficult decision.
As the owner of The Bean Bag, a local coffee house in New Richmond, Bensen spent the past nine years in her 245 S. Knowles Ave. location – complete with three-sided fireplace and adjoining meeting room.
However, renting the facility was taking its toll.
“I had to make a decision to either stay downtown and put more money into it, or move to where I could afford,” Bensen said.
The limited parking downtown was also a problem. She said she wanted to have additional spaces and easier accessibility for her customers.
An opportunity presented itself in the strip mall south of town. Debbie Morales, owner of Heidi’s Hallmark in New Richmond, had been located at 1655 Dorset Lane, but was looking at larger spaces.
The building just north was for sale, so Morales decided to purchase that space instead of continuing to rent her former location. The additional 2,000 square feet provided plenty of room for the merchandise to spread out, while presenting other opportunities.
“People had always told us that they wished there was a coffee shop down here in the south part of town, especially after County Market closed,” she said. “You don’t do something that you aren’t good at, so I went to Lisa.”
In fact, Morales had already approached another small business she thought would be a complement to Hallmark’s niche of gift products: The Jewelry Shop at 753 S. Knowles Ave.
Beth Brockpahler-Utecht, owner of The Jewelry Shop, said that although she thought her location was great for the past seven years, she needed more visibility now.
“I was hidden there,” Brockpahler-Utecht explained. “Then Debbie approached me and this new location would be 25 percent bigger so we could expand our merchandise.”
Located within Hallmark, The Jewelry Shop is in its own room, allowing extra security during off-hours.
The Bean Bag occupies the northeast corner of the store, allowing room for tables and chairs. Bensen said they also plan to offer a drive-through when they get the official go-ahead. Until that time, they are offering curb-side delivery.
Even though they are losing seating space, Bensen doesn’t believe it will hurt business, as the drive-through would compensate.
Bensen said she is looking forward to the new high school opening nearby.
“The schools are our niche,” she explained. “We have a lot of teenagers come in. We were usually packed during the holidays when the students were off school.”
Heidi’s Hallmark opened its new doors at 1621 Dorset Lane Suite 300 on Thursday, Feb. 25. The Bean Bag and The Jewelry Shop opened their doors on Monday, March 1.
Although the stores all have inside access, they will have individual operating hours.
Heidi’s Hallmark will be open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Bean Bag will be open Monday-Friday from 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Jewelry Shop will be open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Evening appointments will be available.
The business owners feel their joint collaboration would be fruitful.
“We’re going small to get our feet on the ground again,” Bensen said. “Then we can go large.”
“We want to help each other out,” Morales said. “Be a one-stop shop.”
“I think all the businesses can work well together because it gives the flexibility to do shopping for different things,” Brockpahler-Utecht said.
“Small businesses can work together.”