KEARNEY — Two Kearney women have turned their knack for decorating into a small business.
Friends Lori Romatzke and Megan Mitchell started selling home decorating and gift items through their business Home Within earlier this year.
“We both love to decorate,” Mitchell said.
“And have found through the years that people have asked us ... to help people redo a room or helping them to pick out something ...” Romatzke continued.
Romatzke, a former teacher, and Mitchell, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, said they talked for a couple of years about opening their own business. The opportunity presented itself after they helped with a Christmas pop-up shop in December at 2210 Central Ave. in downtown Kearney.
Building and former Shopping Tripps owner Jayne Meyer had run the pop-up shop that featured several of her former and new vendors. After that, Mitchell said Meyer asked them to run her spring pop-up shop in March and April.
That’s when the women decided to leap into the home decorating business.
“So when we helped with the pop-up, we kind of looked at each other and went, ‘Let’s just go for it,’” Romatzke said.
Romatzke and Mitchell managed the spring pop-up and sold their goods for one week in March before the COVID-19 pandemic kept shoppers at home.
Since then they have made online sales and offered free home deliveries to customers in the Kearney area.
“We were never going to be open during this time. We were going to close down in April, get ready and have the grand opening in the beginning of August,” Mitchell said.
But because she and Romatzke already were at the store to take inventory in the mornings, they said they decided to be open 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. daily.
“So we’ve just been doing that now because we’re like, ‘Instead of closing down there’s not really reason to now since COVID hit. It’s better to have some time being open,’” Romatzke said.
Mitchell and Romatzke have planned an official grand opening for Aug. 8 and will expand the shop’s business hours then.
The women also said the store is available by appointment for private shopping parties. Romatzke said they already have hosted one such party.
“It was so fun because you talk and you don’t feel like you’re overpowering the store because you’re yelling at your friend from across the room, ‘Look at this! Do you think this would look good in my room?’” Romatzke said.
The items their clients can shop for range from furniture, wall decor and home furnishings to smaller gift items such as jewelry and food items. The price range varies greatly as well.
Dip mixes are available for as low as $2, and some of the jewelry is $15-$20.
Mitchell said, “It’s a good price point I feel. But then we have really nice furniture if someone wants a specific something.”
For example some of their chairs are $1,500, Romatzke said, because they are high quality and unique, something the women take pride in.
“That’s our focus here. We want to have things that you can’t find anywhere else or you’re not going to see in everybody’s home necessarily,” Romatzke said.
To make sure they are serving their clients’ individual tastes, Romatzke and Mitchell offer home decor in a variety of styles from modern and contemporary to a little bit of farmhouse or hobo.
They said they drew much of their inspiration from Meyer’s Shopping Tripps, which she owned for 28 years and sold to Stacy Schwartz in 2015. Schwartz moved the business from the downtown building to north Kearney in 2019.
Romatzke, who grew up in Lexington, and Mitchell, who was raised in Kearney, said they grew up loving Meyer’s store. Now, they turn to Meyer as a mentor.
“We ask her questions. ‘Do you think some people will like this?’ And she knows. She was in business for a lot of years, and knows this demographic of the Kearney, Kearney area,” Romatzke said. “And she’s like, ‘I think people would love that.’ Or she’ll say, ‘I don’t know. Take a gamble. I have not had luck with that in the past but you might.’”