Mary Kay's Gifts & Home Decor has a new look and a new location. It has moved to 1108 Central Ave., the building next door to its previous location in Daniel Pharmacy. Easy access to the shop through the pharmacy remains possible, but there will soon be direct entry from Central Avenue as well.
"It's a bigger space," Mary Kay Daniel, who manages the enterprise, said. "There's a lot more wall space. It's more usable space. There's an exciting, completely new look in here. It's very open - bright."
Daniel has big plans for the expanded, upgraded shop.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Mary Kay Daniel, owner of Mary Kay’s Gifts, poses in her new store recently. She has moved one door west of her old location. Her store is also still connected to Daniel’s Pharmacy. They are located at Central Avenue and 12th Street.
"The sky is the limit," she said. "I'm so excited about having the space to do all the things that I wanted to do in the other store that I just didn't have the ability to do."
For shoppers that means a more diverse selection.
"I can carry more lines," Daniel said. "I mainly want to get into more home decor and furniture. In my shop previously you were limited in terms of how much of that big stuff you could do. Over here I've got the little vignettes in the back where I can have room displays. I'm selling lamps ... tables, side chairs, end tables, wine racks, small furniture. Eventually, I'm going to start carrying a line of designer rugs."
The store has been housed in its new quarters for about a month. Daniel said, however, it remained fully open during the preparation of its new home.
"We knocked down a wall between my old shop and here," she said. "We pretty much took everything down to the studs. We put in new lighting, new electrical, new ceiling, new flooring."
Daniel said the construction went well, but keeping the store open during the renovation of the building was a challenge.
"There were days when it was a little harder to maneuver, but we made it work," she said. "There was a lot of dusting involved and a lot of vacuuming."
The end result was well worth the effort, Daniel said.
"I can't believe how awesome this turned out," she said. "I couldn't have envisioned it better than this. Everyone has been very excited about this new location and the new changes."
Daniel said the qualities that have made her store popular will remain at the heart of her approach.
A theme she has stressed since the store first opened is keeping the choices evolving.
"Anytime something sells, I try to bring in something fresh and different," she said.
Daniel was quick to add, however, that merchandise that proves particularly popular is kept on hand permanently in response to that demand.
"It's a place where you can find a unique gift for someone," she said. "Get one-on-one help with picking something out. If you are looking for something for your home, I've got it. If you are looking for a gift, I have it."
Providing personalized service is part of what Daniel said she most enjoys about running the business.
"I love the one-on-one interaction with the customers," she said. "I get to know them by first name. They tell you about their vacations. It's great. It's like helping a friend more than a customer.
Customers are likely to see additional changes in the months ahead because Daniel has given a lot of thought to the store's future.
"I've got all these ideas in my head," she said. "I've been wanting for years to do this. I couldn't and now I can. Now, I'm struggling with how I'm going to do all the stuff I've wanted to do. It doesn't have to happen all at once."
One part of the marketing game plan will remain the same. Daniel is committed to working collaboratively with the other specialty shops that now dot the 12th Street area.
Daniel said the growth of these shopping options in close proximity to one another is good for the community and having the proprietors work together to serve their patrons benefits everyone.
"You can get a lot of shopping done in a small amount of space," she said, noting that the store owners refer customers to each other. "We're all small businesses that are trying to make it and be successful."
Customers who may wonder what has become of the space Mary Kay's previously occupied will discover it has been incorporated into an ongoing redesign of Daniel Pharmacy.
"I've moved over a building so the pharmacy could expand," Daniel said. "My old space is going to be the durable medical equipment. They had it in several places. It's now all consolidated into one area."
She said that change is part of a reworking of the layout in the pharmacy that will result in a variety of improvements for customers.
Meet Mary Kay Daniel
Daniel grew up in Fort Dodge. She graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High in 1994. After studying for a year at Iowa Central Community College she transferred to Iowa State University where she earned a bachelor of fine arts degree.
After college, Daniel worked in a variety of jobs elsewhere in Iowa including at an office systems company, an architecture firm and a kitchen and bath design company before returning to Fort Dodge.
In addition to running the shop, Daniel is an interior design consultant.
"I'm doing a lot more consulting," she said. "I graduated in interior design. I enjoy doing consulting. I hope I do a lot more of that."