Some people have a difficult time deciding the direction of their career path. For others, like Ashley (Peterson) Landers, it’s easier.
The Neligh-Oakdale alum, along with sister Audrey Patterson and mother Tracie Rudloff, have collaborated in an effort to bring a little bit of Michigan Avenue to Main Street, Neligh, NE with their clothing boutique, Bangle Boulevard.
Inside Rudloff’s Clip N Curl Salon, clients can enjoy a trim and highlight as well as a look through the latest selection of upscale, trendy, and classic clothing items and accessories. Where did the motivation for such a venture originate?
Landers admits to her obsession with fashion from a young age, and credits the times she spent with her mom and sister school shopping as the impetus to starting a clothing boutique.
“We always had such a great time together. I wanted to open a boutique where families and friends could have a fun shopping experience just like we always had.”
Citing her original idea as selling solely online, Landers soon discovered that shop owners needed an actual storefront when buying clothing items from wholesalers, thereby created the necessity of establishing a presence at the downtown Neligh salon.
“With my mom having Clip N Curl, it was the perfect opportunity to open a boutique on a smaller scale, and create that fun shopping experience locally.”
Landers discovered her love of sales as a college student at UNK while working at The Buckle. Originally a nursing student, she switched majors and earned a Technical Sales Degree in Industrial Distribution. While she still continues to enjoy her day job with the same company she’s been with since graduating, Landers, Patterson, and Rudloff opened Bangle Boulevard as their “fun job.”
While home base is Neligh, Landers lives and works in Chicago, while Patterson works in Kearney. An online presence allows all three to contribute time and effort to the enterprise, though it can be complicated.
“The maintenance of the online store has been the most challenging. Getting pictures of all the new products we receive weekly and adding them onto the website can be difficult.”
Those challenges aside, having a physical presence in a small town has advantages.
“We definitely appreciate the support we have received from the community for our small business.”
With the recent advent of personal online styling services like Stitch Fix, more and more women are seeing the advantages of seeking out professional styling advice—a service that the ladies of Bangle Boulevard are happy to provide.
“We have a lot of people who reach out to us who don’t have time to come in to shop, but are looking for an outfit for a specific occasion. We then hand-select pieces and style outfits for them. Mom can make a house delivery for the customer to try. This has been a popular service and allows the customer to shop in the comfort of their own home.”
In fact, this is one of the best parts of the job, says Landers. By personally hand-selecting the styles and brands that look, feel, and wear the best, customers of all shapes and sizes can enjoy the advantages of clothing that will flatter their body type and satisfy their style preferences.
It is in this vein that their traveling “Pop Up Shops” have gained increasing popularity, where clients host a fun “girls’ night” of personal shopping in their own home.
“We have done over 20 Pop Up Shops this year across Nebraska and Illinois and already have 15 scheduled for this fall. We offer great hostess rewards and provide snacks and beverages for the ultimate shopping experience.”
So whether you’re searching for the perfect chambray shirt or summer maxi dress, be sure to stop into Bangle Boulevard, or check them out online.
“Having a store in Neligh has been a lot of fun for us,” says Landers. “In the future I would love to make Bangle Boulevard my full time job.”
There’s something about the smell of freshly mowed grass and just-turned soil that speaks to some people, and this is very true of the Schindler family, who own and collaborate in the operation of SchinDigs Landcare and Garden Center in downtown Neligh.
The small greenhouse on the southern end of Main Street is quickly becoming a favorite destination for other local green thumbs, who begin flocking through the doors in April to check out the merchandise.
Previously a satellite location of Shamrock Nursery of O’Neill, brothers Matt and Jeff, Matt’s wife, Krista, and mother Evelyn heard by word of mouth that the greenhouse was going to be sold. Acting quickly, the family was able to buy the location, and SchinDigs was born.
Now, SchinDigs Landcare focuses on helping those in Neligh and the surrounding area beautify and maintain their own lawns, gardens, and businesses, whether this is simply keeping the grass mowed, controlling weeds and crab grass, providing professional landscaping, or ensuring the greenest lawn on the block.
Originally from Neligh, the Schindlers are enjoying operating their small business in the place they grew up. Both Matt and Jeff credit their mom, Evelyn, for their love of gardening and landscaping, and that they are now running a business doing what they love comes as no surprise.
“It’s great working with a small community and knowing everyone,” says Matt, who adds, “I love mowing. I could be on a mower all day.”
Matt, who has a degree in Horticulture and Golf Course Management, is also a Master Gardener, although one hardly needs to see a diploma to believe it, judging from his own well-kept lawn and gardens.
As for the greenhouse itself, the family has done a number of renovations, including adding a gift shop and office area flanked with enough reclaimed barn wood to make Chip and Joanna Gaines proud. Greenhouse customers are treated to a combination of greenhouse and antique store, where various found items and vintage curiosities have been re-purposed as fern- or succulent-laden planters.
This front area of the greenhouse is the perfect place to shop for graduation or Mother’s Day celebrations, with its wide array of thoughtfully-curated planters and garden ornamentation.
Who comes up with these great ideas, people ask?
“It’s definitely a group, family effort,” says Matt. “We hope to continue ‘growing’ each year.”
Stop into the greenhouse weekdays beginning at 9am—and be sure to leave enough room in your trunk before you go.
It may be a quiet Sunday morning for everyone else, but for the ladies of Mama’s & Nana’s Café in downtown Neligh, it’s anything but sleepy. Inside the downtown Neligh landmark one will find Susan Mickelson, Lori Dexter, and Sheryl Casas hard at work, industriously serving up their signature breakfast dishes to hungry locals.
On Monday, when the trio sat down to visit with ACN, it dawned that they’d reached the two year anniversary of owning their business.
On April Fool’s Day 2014, seeing that longtime Neligh staple Daddy’s Café was up for sale, Lori recalls jokingly saying, “We oughta buy it.” So they put in an offer, which was accepted. Suddenly, they found themselves proprietors of their own restaurant. The coworkers quit their other job that same day.
Dauntless, they set to work and were able to open on April 23rd—not as Daddy’s, but as Mama’s & Nana’s.
Dexter, Mickelson, and Casas are longtime standards in the food service industry. Together, they have 109 years’ worth of experience. Dexter amusedly points out that she remembers the advent of sliced bread. Working at the bakery across the street from Mama’s when she was just 13, she recalls the day that the owners brought in the new-fangled bread slicing machine. “It was the greatest thing,” she laughed.
Now, they focus on breakfast food, filling a needed niche in the community for a good, sit-down breakfast. Patrons particularly love their signature best-sellers, The Skillet and The Stacker—diced ham, smothered with cheese and 3 eggs over American fried potatoes or hash browns. They also serve up daily lunch specials, and recently added dinner specials on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Mickelson, who handles the grill back in the kitchen, points out that they make everything fresh. Casas singlehandedly focuses on the restaurant’s other popular menu item—the fresh, homemade pies that are baked almost daily. Surprisingly, Casas developed this particular skill set only two years ago, when she taught herself the intricacies of pie-making.
Fast forward to today, Casas now rolls out enough crusts for up to 15 pies per week, filling them with fruits or creams, and topping them off with meringue or lattices, as the occasion calls for it. Pies may be made to order, and happy pie recipients faithfully return their glass pie plates to the restaurant, because that’s one of the great things about owning a business in a small town.
Other advantages? “It’s nice being right here in town when my kids need me,” says Mickelson. “We get to know people so well—and often have their table set up for them and their order ready before they even get in the door.”
Mickelson also likes to be able to check in on her 107 year old neighbor frequently. “We bring her lunch every weekend, when home health isn’t able to be there.”
With any venture, there are challenges. Preparing food for a packed house can be stressful. Waiting on a large number of people may be even more trying. “Everyone, at some point, should have to wait tables,” posits Dexter, with a smile. “It’s a humanitarian thing.”
Looking ahead, Mickelson hopes to have a bigger grill. The three also hope to add a broaster to their assets, and offer a buffet on weekend nights. Until then, Mama’s & Nana’s runs like a well-oiled machine.
Good naturedly ribbing one another as we visited, it’s easy to tell the women enjoy one another’s company. “It’s a good thing we get along so well, because we spend a lot of time together!” Mickelson laughs. “We just click.”
Walking down Main Street Neligh, USA, one can’t help but notice the display window of Neligh Family Dentistry, which is always filled with cheerful, informative or historical memorabilia, courtesy of the business’s coworkers and the Antelope County Museum.
The sight is familiar to locals, as is the busy flow of patients who visit Dr. Terry Jensen in the dental chair each day. Dr. Jensen himself will have practiced 40 years in Neligh this August, although he plans to continue until August of 2017.
While sad to hear of Dr. Jensen’s retirement, local patients are happy to welcome Dr. Tim Brovant into the community.
Although many people don’t think about the necessity of reliable, close dental care until they have an accident or a toothache, all feel fortunate that such care will still remain available in the area following Dr. Jensen’s retirement.
Originally from Plainview, Dr. Jensen recalls his mother-in-law reading that Dr. Murphey’s house was for sale in Neligh, and the rest is, as they say, history. Now, Dr. Jensen is enjoying his last months working half time at his practice while helping Dr. Brovant get established in the area.
Jensen’s successor began practicing in July of 2014. Wanting to practice in a small town in Northeast Nebraska, the timing or Dr. Jensen’s impending retirement was fortuitous for Dr. Brovant, who so far has enjoyed working in a small town.
“You can really develop a relationship with people and get to know them better,” said the Lyons native.
Dr. Jensen has also appreciated the independence and low stress that working in a small town affords.
While the actual practice of dentistry is the same no matter how populous the area, Dr. Jensen offers services that he may refer to specialists were he in a bigger city. For instance, Dr. Jensen does orthodontic work, molar extractions, and — everyone’s favorite — molar root canals.
While making referrals to specialists does present a continual challenge, as does keeping up with the constant changes in the profession, both Dr. Jensen and Dr. Brovant are happy to have the aid of their team of hygienists and office staff, Dawn Hixson, Lynette Krebs, Sheryl Baker, Lacey Jesson and Amy Baker.
Hygienists face — quite literally — their own unique set of challenges, whether it’s helping to reassure those who are terrified of being in the chair, working with young children, or dealing with patients who have recently eaten Cheetos and Oreos prior to their dental visit.
And, yes, they can tell who actually flosses daily versus those who only say they do.
Looking ahead, Dr. Jensen will continue to ease out of his professional career and eventually sell the practice to Dr. Brovant, who hopes to practice here for many years to come.
Until then, the staff will continue to hone their skills and focus on the fine art of only asking their patients "yes or no" questions.
Nestled in between the Antelope County Museum and the Imperial II restaurant in Neligh one can find Antelope County Chiropractic, owned and operated by Chiropractor Steve Simonsen.
Simonsen, who grew up on a farm outside of Staplehurst and graduated from Centennial High School in Utica, attended Chiropractor school in Kansas City and practiced in North Carolina and Lincoln, eventually found himself in Neligh — and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I really enjoy living close to where I work so I can just walk. Neligh is big enough to have everything you need. You don't have to run to Norfolk to get something," he said.
For Simonsen, it’s only one of the great things about operating a business in a small community.
“I’m a people person. You’re always running into people you know. Practicing in a small town allows you to get more involved in the community.”
An opportunity Simonsen clearly takes advantage of. After business hours, one is likely to spot him around town, whether it’s refereeing a local basketball game, umpiring baseball or lending a hand with the Neligh Young Men’s Club.
While chiropractic care has been around for decades, it still faces scrutiny, due in large part to the misinformation that surrounds the holistic approach to health and well-being. It’s one of Simonsen’s biggest challenges.
“I’m surprised by the number of individuals I run into who say, ‘Chiropractors hurt you,’ or, ‘Once you go you always have to keep going back.’ People often don't realize that we are primary care physicians, and we can refer to specialists and order tests if needed.”
For many people, seeking chiropractic care in addition to seeing their regular physician is a well-rounded approach to their health. They appreciate the natural solutions that chiropractic care offers. That such care may be found so close to home is an added bonus.
“Most chiropractors are very good at treating problems involving your muscles, spine, joints, and the nerves behind them. If you're having an issue with any of these there is a good chance that you can benefit from chiropractic care. I treat newborns to people well in their 90's. There is no age limit on who may see a chiropractor," he said.
No matter the malady, Simonsen offers a variety of techniques, including diversified manual adjusting, active release techniques, sacral occipital techniques, kinesiology taping, nutrition and diet-based education, and a host of other treatments.
Looking ahead, Simonsen hopes to remain in Neligh for a long, long time.
“I enjoy living in Neligh. I [hope to continue] getting more education so I can increase what I can do for my patients," he said.
For Simonsen, the adage “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is true.
“I have a passion for chiropractic and treating the whole body through a holistic approach. I love what I do. To me, that doesn't make it seem like work," he said.
It's National Small Business Week, and the Neligh Chamber of Commerce is celebrating by saluting local businesses and encouraging those in Antelope County - and beyond - to "Shop Neligh" this week and every week.
And beginning tonight, look for some great stories on some of the businesses in Neligh.
The Chamber's Promotion Committee has put together yet another opportunity for Neligh businesses to work together to advertise their specials, promotions and their business in general this week.
Look for lots of great deals and reasons to shop or do business at Moyers Department Store, Bangle Boulevard, Neligh Flower Shop, 719 Fitness Center, SchinDigs Garden Center, Mamas & Nanas, Antelope Co. Chiropractic, Thriftway Market, Massage By Cassie,Creekwood Chiropractic, Neligh Family Dentistry. State Farm Insurance and Pitzer Digital/Antelope County News.