Archive for Thursday, July 29, 2010

Owner downsizes downtown business

July 29, 2010

After six years, Provence on the Prairie has closed its doors. But owner Mary Miller said she would still be open for business, just not at the same location.

Earlier this month, Miller began displaying store items at Madame Hatter’s Tea Room, 228 Oak St., in preparation for the official store closing July 24.

“With the economy and everything going on, I wanted to keep the business going,” Miller said, noting sales had been down since the recession. “But I was looking at downsizing (and) really making it more manageable.”

Miller considers the move to be more about “diversifying” her business. “I’m not going out of business, I’m just revamping with the economy,” Miller said. “In order to be successful when you’ve got a business, you’ve got to take a look at what’s going on with the economy … and be creative around that.”

Miller will also be displaying goods at a vintage store in the Zona Rosa shopping district in Kansas City, Mo. She said she also plans to offer open houses at her home throughout the year, as well.

Miller said the idea to combine forces with Madame Hatter’s came about through a discussion with Madame Hatter’s owner Bonnie Freeland at the end of May. She said after telling Freeland she was looking at other ways of conducting her business, the two realized the perfect symbiosis that would occur with the joining of the two businesses — especially since Freeland had long wanted to offer a gift-shop of sorts in her tea room, but hadn’t yet managed to figure out a way to do it.

“That was always my intention,” Freeland said. “It was like a no-brainer … This just all fell into place like it should, so it was meant to be.”

Miller said she was sad about closing, but her optimism about the future was evident.

“On the one hand,ß it is (sad) but on the other hand, it is a new adventure for me … doing business in kind of a different manner,” she said.

And the option of coming back isn’t completely off the table. The economy would need to change, however, before that could happen, Miller said.

“My dream would be that, if the economy starts to make some changes and turn around, that we can come back and reopen here in Bonner,” Miller said.

Miller and her Provence staff will still be on hand at Madame Hatter’s frequently to answer questions about merchandise, but all of the items may be purchased through checkout with Madame Hatter’s. A grand reopening ceremony will be going on over the weekend of Tiblow Days.

For more information, contact Madame Hatter’s at (913) 422-8800.

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