Leo-Cedarville is seeing a resurgence in its local shopping options.
The Olde Church Shoppes have been in the community for 25 years, selling books, children’s clothing, antiques and more.
“There were a lot of little antique shops when we first started,” co-owner Koleen Schlatter said. Over the years, owners have moved on or passed away, she said. “For a while we were the only one. … Now, in the past year, more little shops have opened, and that’s really great.”
Since September, four new boutique shops have opened in the area.
The first to open was abode, an interior décor shop owned by Carey Burchfield.
“I have always wanted to have my own home décor kind of shop,” she said. “Basically I drove by this and saw that it was for sale and just thought it was a cute little house that I could picture as a store and I thought it had great store frontage and so I jumped in.”
A month later the Gallery Shoppes and the Shed opened their doors. The Gallery Shoppes sells unique gifts and home décor, while the Shed specializes in large wooden prints.
About three months ago, just be accessories + apparel opened across the street from abode.
The buildings now housing the Shed, abode and just be were all a labor of love to restore, their owners said.
“We did pretty much everything from siding, windows, doors, groundwork … flooring, trim, pretty much everything. It was dirty, it was messy. There were vines growing in here, it was insane,” the Shed owner Emilia Land said. “It was cool to watch that transformation and then we got to start breathing life into this property that just was going to heck in a handbag.”
“You just can’t find this character. You have to bring things back to (their) original state and beauty,” just be owner Beth Shirey said.
Though many might not immediately think of Leo-Cedarville as the ideal location for a boutique, all of the store owners insisted on being there, they said.
“I’m from a small town originally in Michigan. I love the feel of a hometown. I actually have a sweatshirt design that I made myself that has hometown on it that has the state of Indiana with Leo in a little heart on it. I believe in small communities and I love the people here,” Shirey said.
Leo residents have been appreciative as well.
“ … small communities and small businesses, I think people are starting to put value back into that again and so to be in a big strip mall really wouldn’t fit what I do and so I love the idea of being in a small community and the one I’m in and the one I’m part of,” Burchfield said.
“Everybody has mentioned, ‘We are so glad you are in Leo.’ Everybody has loved the shop. We’ve had (a) great welcoming,” Gallery Shoppes owner Terri Maidment said.
All five boutique owners said they feel they are part of something larger happening in Leo, and they are happy to do their part — together.
“I’m excited and I’m thankful to Leo for having us and I’m excited for friends of mine like Beth and Carey at abode and the Gallery Shoppes. I’m excited to watch the growth of this town and I feel blessed to be a part of it,” Land said.
“(We’re) excited to have them in the community now,” Schlatter said of the newer boutiques. “I think we can all pull from each other.”