Even in a war with the Internet, the owners of small businesses can succeed if they’re willing to work hard and be creative.
That’s what Amanda Hadenfeldt and her staff do. Hadenfeldt’s store, A-List Fashion Boutique, opened next to Kinkaiders on Nov. 10, 2018.
The store was busy on Saturday, which was Small Business Saturday. Some also called the day Shop Small.
Not only does A-List attract shoppers in person, but “We have a really strong online presence as well,” Hadenfeldt said.
The A-List does a lot of activity on Facebook and Instagram.
Twice a week — at 8 p.m. Mondays and noon Fridays — the staff reports from the store on Facebook Live.
The women display “all of our new arrivals for the week,” Hadenfeldt said. “We get everything on and show you how to put it together and wear things differently.”
In addition to Shop Small, the A-List was celebrating its one-year birthday Saturday. In honor of the occasion, customers were offered cupcakes, champagne and high-quality candy. In addition to discounts, employees gave away bags and “cute little shirts,” Hadenfeldt said.
The clothing is mostly for women, although there are also items for kids. A sign on the wall points to an area “where the cool kids shop.” A mat at the bottom of the stairs says, “You’re like, really pretty.” Another sign says, “Life is short. Make every outfit count.”
The store sells “unique, trendy little items” and accessories, she said.
Hadenfeldt admits that it’s “really hard” to compete with online retailers. But she tries to stock her store with items you don’t see everywhere.
“I go to a lot of markets to try to get one-of-a-kind things that you’re not going to see in town other places,” she said.
A-List tries “really hard” to have brands and styles “that set us apart,” Hadenfeldt said.
The motto of the store is “Escape the Ordinary.”
The shop also offers a wide range of sizes, from small to 3X. A-List can have “something for everybody that way,” she said.
In addition to selling clothes, the store offers styling tips. The staff likes to show customers how to “take a versatile piece and combine it different ways so that you have one piece that’ll give you three or four outfits.”
Here’s a look at two other downtown stores that were open Saturday.
A Higher Plane
Tammy Van Winkle is the owner of A Higher Plane, which opened in October 2018. Located at 311 W. Third St., the store says it provides “tools for spiritual living.”
A Higher Plane sells crystals, incense and smudge items such as sage and palo santo. People can buy tools that help them meditate and connect with their spiritual selves, Van Winkle said.
Also on sale are books, jewelry, candles, amethyst, divination decks and home decor items.
The store is tapping into a market that Grand Island hasn’t served before, she said.
People “were driving to Lincoln and Omaha to go to their spiritual centers,” she said. Those destinations included Next Millennium and Awakenings in Omaha.
A Higher Plane is a store “that Grand Island sorely needed,” she said.
People who visit the store will be pleasantly surprised, Van Winkle said. “Our store is similar to something you might find when you go to Boulder,” or elsewhere in Colorado, she said.
As people head into the new year, if they’re trying to make transformations, “this is a great place to stop because we have a lot of classes” on meditation, spirituality and other subjects, she said.
In the back of the store are three practitioner rooms. In those rooms, people do energy healing, reiki, acupressure and crystal healing — “just any kind of alternative or holistic modality we’re into,” Van Winkle said. “We just try to learn about all different kind of things.”
Tom and Lois Nielsen have owned the Milestone Gallery for 10 years. It is at the corner of West Third and Wheeler.
Opening the store was a long-awaited milestone for the Nielsens, so that is where the business gets its name.
“We sell a variety of things,” Tom Nielsen said. The Milestone started out with craft items from the family, but the inventory now consists primarily of antiques and fine art. The art is contemporary and antique in various media, including prints and sculptures.
The Nielsens enjoy having people stop in to look at the historical items “and the unique things that we find that you don’t see every day,” he said.
Nielsen said this comes from his interest in Grand Island and Hall County history.