When I was a little girl I loved playing store and often ran garage sales for my mom.
At age 16 I continued to play shop girl working at the local Younkers Department Store in Bettendorf, Iowa. I worked in the stores all through high school and college. Following college I moved to Des Moines to work in the buying office, where I would meet my future husband, John, who worked in the advertising department. That job went away when in late 2002 Younkers merged with Saks Inc. I was devastated at first, but quickly it dawned on me the push out the door was exactly what I needed. When I was in the stores, I always wanted to be the one to pick out what was in the stores. When I was in the buying office, I missed the social connections I’d made working in the stores. Owning my own shop was the perfect opportunity to have the best of both these worlds. I’ve never been much of a risk taker, but with John and friends and my family’s encouragement, I set out to follow my dream.
When we would travel I would seek out the local small shops and boutiques. I’ve always been a lover of fragrance, candles, and pampering products. There used to be a thing boys would do to court girls where they would search for the perfect songs and then put them all together on one special mix tape. That’s by the way how my husband got me. John says that is what eden is to him, a perfect mix tape of beautiful things.
Our first shop was at the corner of e. 5th and grand avenue. A friend called us about the space and when we went to see it, it was love at first sight. The fact that it was right next door to American Plumbing solidified my idea of a soap store. What could be more perfect? People could buy their sink, then come to us to buy their soap.
We opened eden in June 2003.
A few years went by and we realized that we were outgrowing our happy little corner. Some friends of ours at Gong Fu Tea quietly told us of a building just up for sale at 418 e. 6th street. For the past thirty years it had been a popular pawn shop. We could tell after a very short while that she was a diamond in the rough and we loved her. We discovered the original 1880s tin ceiling 8 feet above an over painted drop ceiling, also hidden for decades was a beautiful 19th century lead glass block store front waiting to again let the glorious sun shine in. The people that uncovered King Tut’s tomb couldn’t have felt more wonder. And after years of renovation, we finally moved into our new home in the summer of 2010.
We brought a little from our past with us. Years ago in our buying office days, John and I would meet for for rare-bit burgers over lunch in the tea room. I would fantasize about owning my own shop and even sometimes fantasize about somehow having the beautiful tea-room counter in it. Of course how could that happen, that counter had been there for 90 years and wasn’t going anywhere. When the downtown Younkers store closed and had their big sale, John was first (well, third) in line. He ran straight up to fifth floor and triumphantly claimed it for team eden, Also snagging the tea cart and our beautiful chandelier for good measure.
Even today, as I stand behind the Younkers Tea Room counter in our new shop, I still feel like the little girl playing store all those years ago.
John and I have a somewhat embarrassing habit of pretending to speak for eden in a friendly, though badly executed English accent. eden is not just a store to me, she is my joyful obsession. I have the best customers in the world and when they make suggestions for new product, I listen. When we have events or store parties we think of it as a party for our friends, we never stop for one second in trying to make her the best store we know how for Des Moines, for our friends and you.