Walk into and you’ll be struck by a couple thoughts. First, you’ll be amazed at how the shop has grown from its tiny location (so small they had customers waiting on the sidewalk one Christmas season) into a shop three times the size. Second, you won’t believe that UniQue Ideas' shop used to be a stogy grey bank. The walls are now a lively green with a warm laminate floor.
UniQue Ideas is a personalization and monogram shop that creates one of kind gifts, shirts, hats, glassware, bags and much more. They can embrodery, silk screen and apply vinyl lettering to just about anything.
Co-owner Michele Van Tuyl said their move to a new location at 58 Fenton Plaza was part luck. The company banks at , the former tenant of her location. When she heard that they were , she hinted around that she would love to move into their space when it was available.
The plaza has several vacancies, but the bank’s location was prime real estate, smack in the middle of the shopping center and highly visible to traffic.
“We’ve had several new customers. On a good day at the old place, we’d have 20 people drop by. Here we have 20 to 60 just in foot traffic,” Van Tuyl said. She said they’ve also had an increase in men shopping for wives or girl friends—a customer base they hadn’t had much luck attracting before.
The new shop is around 25,000 square-feet which gives UniQue Ideas more room to display its merchandise. She said they’ve added more home décor items and now have lots of cash and carry products that look great with or without being personalized.
One of their core customers is still the small business owner, teams and organizations.
“They don’t have to purchase a whole lot to get a good price from us,” she said.
UniQue Ideas does all the personalize spirit wear for Rockwood South Middle School and does some work for Summit, Northwest, Fox and Lindberg high schools. She said that parents can drop in and get a personalized jacket, t-shirt or gym bag in their kid’s school colors directly from her shop also.
The new location opened July 30. Van Tuyl said they only had to shut down for five days while they moved.
“It was crazy,” she said. “We’re still in the mode of trying to find everything,” she said.
One of the benefits of the new location is the extra space for their workshop. They kept the bank’s counter after cutting it down to a more friendly height and kept the bank’s partition wall. They use the old office and vault area for their workshop.
Having their workshop right behind the showroom floor is a luxury that customers may not understand. At their former location in Bentley Plaza, the workshop was in their very first shop, a tiny storefront on the other side of Curves. Curves was owned by Diane Badee, Van Tuyl’s mom, so they just cut through the gym to get to their storeroom and monogramming equipment.
“We subleased from her,” Van Tuyl said. “Her contract was up in May. She was looking to move, but didn’t want to sign another three year lease.”
Curves was a causality of UniQue Idea’s move. Van Tuyl said that her father, Harold Badee, is her financial backer. The Badee’s didn’t have the capital to keep Curves going and also expand UniQue Ideas.
She added that UniQue Ideas is now at the point where it’s reaching self-sufficiency. It made more since for the family to focus on one shop, especially since her mother was wanting to slow down. Her whole family now works at UniQue Ideas, with Diane working as the office manager and Harold doing the books.