The name, Hometown Creations, says it all.
Michelle Schluter loves the many fascinating items from local vendors. So much, in fact, that she has moved her skin care and massage business – Body & Skin Rejuvenation – into the back of Hometown Creations after acquiring it from prior ownership. She emphasized wanting to keep the shop local while expanding her own business aspirations.
“She’s combining a local gift store with her personal services under one roof,” said Forest City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Norma Hertzer, who coordinated a Feb. 11 ribbon-cutting. “It is a really good strategy for her going forward.”
Schluter took over Hometown Creations in January and the business reopened under her new ownership on Feb. 1. Schluter has kept many of the same local vendors and said she is giving Hometown Creations even more of a local, “not corporate” feel.
She cited many Forest City vendors that make products for sale at the store, including masks, dog collars and leashes, baby items, key chains and sewing items from “Sugar Lilly Accessories,” jewelry and crochet items from “Marlys Ebaugh” and “Pretty Things from Rocks and Strings,” plus some fabulous barn quilts and wood-signed items from “Rhonda Sullivan.”
“We added a wall to separate my service and retail areas,” said Schluter. “I guess you could call this a niche store. It has a little bit of everything. We support products here that provide money to good and charitable causes.”
Additional Hometown Creations inventory includes furniture items, home décor, purses, candles, essential oils, floral arrangements, knits, wood crafts, painting products, and T-shirts. A T-shirt party is already scheduled at the store on March 6.
Schluter intends to use basement space for future vendor events. The combined upstairs space where the two businesses are housed measures about 30 by 80 feet. The basement is nearly as large.
“It is a full basement,” said Schluter. “It is not a dungeon and we are going to utilize all that space. All vendors do something a little different and we want to have many of them in that space and provide some unique ‘create your own’ products.”
Hometown Creations shopping hours are 2-6 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturdays. When additional staff is soon added, Schluter plans to expand the shopping hours. For now, she thanks her mother, Gayle Anderson of Mason City, and her daughter, 14-year-old Cadie, for helping her cover the shop when she cannot cover both businesses herself.
“First and foremost, I am still a massage therapist and esthetician,” said Schluter. She has been a licensed massage therapist since 2006 and has been a practicing esthetician (skin care specialist) since 2013. She will now display her full line of “Natural Organic and/or Cruelty Free Products,” noting that there was never enough space to have them all out for customers when Body & Skin Rejuvenation was located just across the street prior to the move to the new 134 N. Clark Street Hometown Creations location.
Schluter has been practicing at Body & Skin Rejuvenation in Forest City for about five years.
Since reopening Hometown Creations in February, Schluter said business has been good when winter weather has not been an impediment.
“People are happy and excited about this and we have a business providing them with a little bit of everything right here in Forest City, so they can continue to shop local,” she said. “I already had products and knew what I needed to do with Hometown Creations. Adding full-time staff and more shopping hours will be the big challenge for me.”
Rob Hillesland is community editor for the Summit-Tribune. He can be reached at 641-421-0534, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.