KEARNEY — The owners of Real Deals strive to make the store a welcoming place where visitors can take off their coats, sip on a hot beverage and relax.
“When people walk in our doors, they become part of our family, too,” said co-owner Hannah Sloggett.
Family is important to the mother-daughter duo of Hannah and Annette Sloggett, who opened the home decor and women’s boutique Oct. 3 at 2102 E. Highway 30, Suite 1. It’s what brought them back to Nebraska after decades of moving across the country.
In 32 years, Annette said, the family has moved seven times. Shortly after she and her husband Craig got married in Broken Bow, his job with the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad took them to Loveland, Colo.
When the family lived in Albuquerque, Hannah and Annette started shopping at a Real Deals location there. After they moved to Wyoming, first the parents in 2007 and then Hannah in 2009, there were two of the stores in nearby cities.
“We both have always known about Real Deals,” Hannah said.
So, one day Hannah mentioned opening up a Real Deals in Kearney while she was on the phone with her mom on the way to work. Annette told her to look into the details.
Real Deals is a franchise, Hannah explained, so as owners she and her mom own the products, get to pick the pricing and choose what goes in the store. The two just got back from “market” in January, where they picked out Christmas decor for 2020.
Though they own and operate the store locally, they also get benefits of being a part of a larger company, like being able to share marketing ideas and the buying power of a bigger corporation.
What struck Hannah about Real Deals, though, was their values.
“They’re a family-oriented company,” she said. “Once you sign on that dotted line, you become part of their family, and vice versa, they become a part of ours.”
That close-knit culture extends to the store in Kearney, too.
As the two owners look into this next year, they said what excites them most is continuing to build relationships with shoppers in Kearney, who are from all over Nebraska.
“Both Mom and I, we love people. We’re total ‘people-people,’” Hannah said. “We want (the store) to be their getaway.”
The co-owners also are always ready to help customers with styling advice.
The two create all of the displays in the store and switch them out regularly. Some displays show seasonal decor, like an Easter and St. Patrick’s display up in February.
Others are centered around a style, like the wall in one corner of the store laden with farmhouse pieces. Each Real Deals store also has a “kitchen,” where customers can find something for that particular room of the house.
Annette says she finds inspiration, sometimes from a particular piece of decor, and builds out a theme from there.
“I don’t have any professional training,” she said of her decor skills. “It just comes naturally to me.”
With so many unique pieces at Real Deals, inspiration isn’t hard to come by.
New products are delivered to the store every two weeks, so shoppers usually may find something new in the store. However, many of the pieces don’t stay around for long.
While there are a large number of items total, the store doesn’t stock dozens of the same items. Then, once it’s sold out, it’s gone.
“Real Deals is meant to be that special find,” Hannah described.
“We’re trying to be that unique piece,” her mom added. “So they can be unique and not feel like everyone around them is going to be able to get the same items.”
However, there are a few “staple” items you may always pick up at the store, like town signs.
These black and white pieces show the name of a local town, along with the longitude and latitude coordinates. Real Deals in Kearney stocks several area towns, including Kearney, of course, but also smaller towns from the surrounding area, like Oconto, where Annette grew up.
Right now, it seems like 40.6993° N, 99.0817° W is where the Sloggetts are meant to be — after decades of moves — closer to family.
“I love meeting people that my mother grew up with,” Hannah said. “People recognize our last name, all these people I wouldn’t have met if I had not moved to Nebraska.”