Archive for Wednesday, September 18, 2002

New gift shop to open soon

September 18, 2002

Sometime soon, the doors of Tonganoxie's newest gift shop will open.

Irene Houk, who lives in Jefferson County, said she had been thinking about opening a gift shop in Tonganoxie.

"It's a nice town and it's centrally located," Houk said.

Then she noticed a for lease sign in front of the former Mills Insurance agency building, 304 West St.

Houk called Cheryl Hanback, who earlier this summer purchased the building.

"She was so helpful and enthusiastic, she inspired me," Houk said.

Also encouraging to Houk was the building itself, an early-1900s structure originally built as a home.

"I didn't want to be in a plain store front," Houk said. "I wanted it to be unique. I just think it makes it more fun for everybody it's like a social outing, as well as a shopping venture."

But making the renovated building look old again was a challenge. Houk started by painting the brown paneling in bright pastels. Next, she and her husband, Allen Houk, built shelving along the north wall of the front room. This area holds candles and a selection of homemade pottery, as well as Kansas University and Kansas State University mugs and clocks.

Houk, who hopes to open the business by late September or early October, plans to stock the store with a variety of products, including gifts for men and women, some home furnishing items and seasonal dr. The rooms will showcase different items. For instance, guests will see a bedroom, as well as a kitchen which Houk said is her favorite kind of kitchen.

"It doesn't have a sink or a stove," she joked.

And, the dr and gift items in those rooms will be appropriate for bedrooms or kitchens, she said.

In the corner lot, Houk plans to hold community events, such as Halloween pumpkin carving sessions for children on Saturday mornings, and, to keep it seasonally decorated. Currently, she's planning to set up corn stalks, hay bales and pumpkins.

Houk said her parents still live in the same farmhouse south of Lawrence where she grew up. Her husband, she said, grew up on a farm where Clinton Lake now is. When the lake was built his family moved their dairy farm to Jefferson County, where it is in operation today. The Houks have two teenaged sons.

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