CEDAR RAPIDS — Amanda Doty and Leah Johnson first met about eight years ago when they took jobs at Yellowbook in Cedar Rapids. After a short time, both moved on to new endeavors, but their friendship endured.
“We got each other out of it,” Johnson said.
This past April, Doty approached Sandra Rinderknecht, owner of the Enchanted Gift, to see if a custom wood engraving company Doty worked for could become a vendor at Rinderknecht’s downtown Cedar Rapids gift shop.
“The first day she met me, she said, ‘Why don’t you have your own business?’” Doty recalled.
In June, Rinderknecht mentioned to Doty that she intended to relocate to North Carolina. In September, she asked if Doty would be willing to purchase the business from her.
“A couple hours later, I had convinced Leah that we should do it together,” Doty said. “I told her we could do so many fun things with the store.”
The transition of the business to the new owners happened Nov. 1, along with a new name — Rustic Chic Boutique.
“We wanted a name that expressed more of what we’d be doing,” Johnson said.
The 4,200-square-foot store offers a wide array of gift items, greeting cards, home decor, jewelry and repurposed and refurbished furniture.
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The store’s inventory includes the work of at least a dozen artisans and craftspeople who rent space to sell their handmade goods.
Nine of those vendors are new since the store changed hands, and the owners are seeking more.
“We’re trying not to have duplicates to avoid competition,” Doty noted.
To fit the “rustic” aesthetic, Doty and Johnson installed wood pallet divider walls that separate and define the individual vendor spaces and provide more options for vendors to display their goods.
Rent starts at $20 per month, depending on the size of the space, and vendors keep all proceeds from their sales.
“They don’t have to haul their stuff to a craft show every weekend — they just restock as needed,” Johnson said.
The new owners said one of the things that most appealed to them about the business was the store’s central downtown location with access from the skywalk.
To take advantage of downtown foot traffic during the workweek, they expanded store hours and are now open Monday through Friday, with some weekend hours.
Doty and Johnson staff the store themselves, although they said that may change going forward.
“Being friends and owning a business together is all well and good,” Johnson said. “Until we want to go do something together.”
l Know a business that’s been operation for less than a year that would make for a nifty “Ground Floor” feature? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a Glance
l Owners: Amanda Doty and Leah Johnson
l Business: Rustic Chic Boutique
l Address: 207 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids
l Phone: (319) 200-4298
l Email: email@example.com
l Facebook: www.facebook.com/rcbcriowa