State of transition
Several downtown shops are changing owners or closing
As 2013 came to an end, several downtown Noblesville business owners faced a tough decision on the fate of their store. Some stores are closing for personal reasons, and not because of business issues, and others are starting because of opportunities presented. Regardless of the reason, the look of the town square may soon change.
Hamilton County may lose its only independent bookstore as The Wild, 884 Logan St., will be sold or have its doors closed by March.
“March 27 is the date. My lease is up May 1,” owner Debbie Marinaro, 58, said. “I have a two-year lease and I wasn’t going to wait for another two years.”
Marinaro said she and her husband, Michael, have become first-time grandparents.
“We need a little more flexibility than the store could provide for us,” she said. “I need to be at the store full time or not any more. At this age and stage, it’s time for us to let someone else take the reins.”
Marinaro said she wants the store to remain open.
“It’s an icon of downtown Noblesville,” she said. “I’m still passionate (about it) and still love it.”
Marinaro purchased The Wild four years ago from Jane Mills, who had operated it for four-and-a-half years. Marinaro said her love for children, books and literacy were the main reasons she bought the store.
“A lot of things came together. At the time I was losing my job in Title 1 in Noblesville Schools and my husband and I were becoming empty nesters,” she said. “Teaching kids to read, to love to read and to want to read were the underlying principals of why we did it.”
In addition to hundreds of children’s books, The Wild has always welcomed and sold local authors and books.
“It’s really important that there be a place because it’s a tough business to break into,” Marinaro said.
Marinaro declined to publicly comment on the amount she wants for the business but anyone interested in The Wild may contact her at 773-0920.
“As the ‘For Sale’ signs went into the window, the outcry from customers and the community over the possible closing of the store has been tremendous. I have had customers in denial, disappointment and tears,” Marinaro said.
Michael Delk, 43, opened The Faux Flower and Gift Shop, 84 S. Ninth St., in October 2006. After closely monitoring his bankbooks, Delk has decided to close his business after more than seven years.
“I was using a lot of red pen. It just wasn’t working,” he said. “I never had any record sales in any year.”
After deciding to close, Delk consolidated his two spaces into one in January. He plans to keep the store open until the end of the month.
“If it all sells within one week I won’t be here anymore,” he said. “At what point do you just box it up and head to Goodwill?”
What will he do next? Delk said his future is unknown.
“I have no clue – absolutely none,” he said, “but I’m not retiring.”
With the loss of Faux Flower, the city also loses a little nostalgia during the holiday season. Delk said it takes 60 hours of work to step back to yesteryear, when elaborate window decorations were more common, to attract shoppers better than Black Friday deals do.
“It’s all in storage,” he said. “Maybe someday they’ll make an appearance.”
What began with two windows expanded to 10 displays along Ninth Street and all included animated David Hamberger’s designs – a throwback to Delk’s childhood.
“The Muncie Mall had displays like this I remember as a kid in the early 70s,” he said. “It’s a way of sending a Christmas card to the city. In the very beginning I did it as a way to say ‘thank you.’”
Currently sitting empty at 50 N. Ninth St. is the former building of Martha Jane’s. Owner Anne Millikan, who was ready to retire after 25 years, opened the downtown Noblesville location six years ago and closed it prior to the New Year.
A new home décor store was saved after Lynne Goodman, Kathy Blake and Jenna Rowe purchased At Home with Valerie and renamed the shop At Home with Us. The store opened on Aug. 15 but due to personal health reasons owner Valerie Nicholson had to sell or close the shop by Dec. 27.
“We all had booths there,” Goodman said. “We just did not want to see the shop close. We were determined to keep it open. All of the vendors were right behind us to keep it open and make a go of it.”
Goodman said the three ladies decided to purchase the store at 982 Logan St. 72 hours after hearing Nicholson tell vendors about the closing on Oct. 30.
“We said, ‘If we are going to do it, let’s do it,’” she said. “We were three people who never knew each other.”
Goodman said At Home with Us is not a flea market or antique shop, but a place to find home décor.
“If it’s home décor related you’re going to find it here – from toothpick holders to original oil paintings. With three levels there’s a wide variety that appeals to anybody,” she said. “We liked the concept. We really don’t want to change it a lot.”
At Home with Us is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The store can be contacted at 776-4100.
“We may open on Sunday and Monday at some point, especially when the restaurant opens,” Goodman said, citing The ‘Ville, a restaurant next door in the former Eddie’s Corner Café spot.