Monday, August 3, 2009

A Doggone Good Destination!

'They' had their doubts... A town with a population of 333 people, off the not so beaten path (Highway 281), wouldn't seem like the most lucrative location to open an antique store, but Jarrel and Nancy Winings had the 'build it and they will come' mentality, and the result is, "now it's bringing people here."

Chambers, Nebraska's own resident fireball, her husband Jarrel who works alongside her, and son Chris, have turned a once small, in-home business into a destination for people who "are opting to seek out smaller towns." 'Doggone Good Antiques & More' is the draw.

In the year 2000, Nancy opened the store in the basement of her home on the ranch where she, Jarrel, and Chris live. The store began as a much needed office for the 'Winings Guest House' which resides on their property. Guests were now able to stop in and settle up their account, and Nancy, a very sharp businesswoman who was already a seasoned Watkins dealer, decided to start picking up a few antiques and collectibles here and there for her store. This venture gave her guests a little something extra to look at and do. Nancy chose the name, 'Doggone Good Antique Store' because she thought it was a good rural name and her guests where greeted by four happy dogs.

The store was becoming so successful that more room was needed for display, so in 2007, the Winings bought the old American Legion Building in Chambers and moved their antique business into town. Nancy says she wanted "to take a regular antique store and make it unique". Her individuality is reflected in the first thing a potential customer sees...her building is painted a dramatic purple color. Her talents really play out in the choice of upholstery material she uses on otherwise traditional styles of furniture, and her creative displays inside the shop. Nancy enjoys the variety of projects she does; upholstery (a sewing skill transferred from her college days when she ran a business out of her dorm room designing, sewing, and selling Western style shirts), framing, display, and buying and selling. She says she is doing everything she likes to do, plus she is meeting very interesting people.

Nancy stresses that she and Jarrel "do this business together." In addition to his ranching activities and driving a school bus, both of them attend auctions together where Jarrel purchases those items that have potential ("furniture is a big thing"). He cleans up the items by sandblasting or power washing, and then brings them in for Nancy to add the finishing touches. He also runs the store while Nancy is riding the speaker circuit for Stonecroft Ministries, a non-denominational, world-wide ministry that seeks to reach the un-churched.

A real treat for store customers is 'Ace' the resident greeter. Winings says "Ace runs the store." "He breaks the ice and entertains kids with his funny antics. He can sing, whisper, talk normal, sit up and squat down. He seems to know that this is his job and he loves to come to work." In fact, it "hurts his feelings when he doesn't get to." Winings recounted the story that one day she told Ace he had to stay home, and when she got in the car to leave for work, there he was in the seat next to her. She has no idea how he slipped in unseen by her.

In February of this year, Jarrel and Nancy started their own 'Doggone Good Road Show', bringing in three appraisers from Omaha, who did over 350 appraisals in two days. They are planning another event in February of 2010.

Knowledge of the store is discovered from their brochures that go nationwide and their website, She said customers come in her store and find out about the guest house, or they stay at the guest house and hear about the store.

What's in the future for these entrepreneurs? Nancy says she "has all kinds of ideas---if God allows."
Ace is keeping an eye out for customers...


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