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Square talk

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Square talk

Bolivar’s square and surrounding downtown are in the midst of a series of changes as businesses and business owners announce plans to enter and exit the city’s center district. 

The widespread changes are notable, but not uncommon, said Susan Sparks, president of the Downtown Business Association.

Businesses come and go in trends, she said.

“I’ve watched this square for 20 years, and there’s an ebb and flow to the downtown area,” she said. 

1A Square Changes 3

Savannah Hague smiles and waves as she crosses the sidewalk on Bolivar’s square on Thursday, Aug. 1. 

“As some leave, others come in, and in some cases, they bring plans for historically accurate renovations, something that can be “a service to the whole square,” Sparks said.

“There’s been a resurgence in the interest in taking historical buildings back to their former glory,” she said. 

Trading places

Citizen Memorial Hospital’s Home Care Services and Douglas, Haun & Heidemann, P.C are planning a swap after the law firm’s owner, Pat Douglas, acquired the Home Health office at 113 E. Broadway St., on the north side of the square. Meanwhile, CMH has acquired the law firm’s former office at 111 W. Broadway St., a block west of its current location.

James Owings

James Owings paints at DJ’s Deals and Steals’ new location at 218 W. Jackson. The building was previously home to The Well 4:14 coffee and bistro.

DHH is in the process of moving out of its office and into a new home across Main Avenue at the historic First National Bank building. Douglas completed an extensive renovation of the building, which also offices Ollis/Akers/Arney insurance agent Paul Long. 

CMH’s HCS’ move will occur “sometime in late August,” according to Tamera Heitz-Peek, CMH marketing director.

“The reason we are moving is that the space is better. Our current location, which was the old Commerce Bank building, was much larger than what we needed,” Donald J. Babb, chief executive officer/executive director of CMH and Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation, said via an emailed statement.

Babb said the goal was to “downsize to a more appropriate-sized facility.”

 “We had an offer to sell our current building, so that really was an incentive for us to sell and to move to the new location,” he said.

Douglas told the BH-FP that new lofts and a possible commercial business are part of his vision for the home health building. 

“That’s to be determined depending on demand,” Douglas said. “It could be anything from office space to a restaurant.”

The home health office space has a substantial footprint, he said — 5,500 square feet — which could even be used for more than one business, he said. Several old safes remain in the building from its days as home to Commerce Bank. 

“You could have it wide open, so you could come in there with something big or something that just needed half of the space,” he said. 

Douglas said he was happy to see CMH take the law firm’s former building. He previously told the BH-FP the firm was opened in those offices by his great-grandfather in 1912.

“We didn’t want to want to leave it hanging,” he said. 

Basil & Bourbon brewing

Basil & Bourbon, an upcoming restaurant, is preparing to launch at its 113 S. Main Ave. location on the west side of the square. 

Kayla Rippee, Basil & Bourbon’s owner, said the building was purchased in October 2016.

Regarding Bolivar’s downtown scene, Rippee said, “We’re hoping we bring a little life back during the evening … and hopefully the conversations in the community around (the square).”

The restaurant will work with a network of small farmers and serve bistro-style dishes on the menu, according to its online campaign. The restaurant will also feature a bar.

Basil & Bourbon created an online fundraiser campaign on July 22 at to cover “unforeseen costs.”

The Crafter’s Den to open

The Crafter’s Den, a new retail store that sells products handcrafted by local southwest Missouri artists, is preparing to open at 212 E. Jackson St.

The building was previously owned by Fired Up Pottery and Art. 

1A Square Changes 4

Jean Davis, left, and Sam Davis stand in line for 3G’s custard on Bolivar’s downtown square.

Jami Kolsky, The Crafter Den’s owner, said the square is “a big part of the community.” 

“Being central to a place that’s bigger on local culture (is) important,” she added.

The store is set to open Sept. 2. Before opening, the store will host a kick-off event Saturday, Aug. 24, that will allow kids and families to put painted handprints on the store’s walls.

The store will also offer art classes. The schedules are available online at

DJ’s Deals and Steals moves 

DJ’s Deals and Steals, a discount store at 1320 W. Broadway St., is moving to 201 S. Main St. on the southwest corner of the square. 

“The new location will hopefully be better for a retail store,” said Carol Bullard, store owner, via email.

She noted the square has several downtown activities that she’s looking forward to participating in with other local businesses.

“As a member of this community my whole life, the square has always been a location to shop as an adult and as a child,” she said. “I grew up with Alice’s Closet and dressed my children from Frogs N Friends.  I am a believer in ‘shop local.’”

In addition to the change of venue, Bullard said the store’s name will “probably be changed to just DJ’s Deals.”

The store sells new discounted clothing, shoes, electronics, home items, toys and more.

The new location was previously home to The Well 4:14 coffee and bistro shop, which moved down the street to 218 W. Jackson St. earlier this year.

Blade Signs posts up downtown

Blade Signs owner Jeff Kuchta said he feels right at home in his new space at 117 S. Market Street near the Bolivar square.

His old address, on West Broadway Street, actually was a home converted into his shop and business. 

Blade Signs moved earlier this month to its new location, he said.

“We were in was a house,” he said. “We were there almost six years. It’s wasn’t as open. The printer had its own room.”

David Shelton

David Shelton paints the second floor of Jenny’s Dry Cleaners Monday, Aug. 5. 

Kuchta said he’d made the decision to move after his son, Ryan, joined the Bolivar Police Department. His daughter, who had worked for him, moved and took a different job, and his designer made the decision to work part time. 

“I said, well, now’s a good time to downsize,” he said. “It’s really eliminated a lot of my stress.”

The space, Kuchta said, offers a number of benefits. 

“This is a commercial building,” he said. “It’s a shop. I can move stuff around, and I can pull vehicles in.”

There are benefits to downsizing, he said. 

“I’m pretty much just doing the stuff I want to do,” he said. “I sold my bucket truck, so I don’t go up high anymore. I just do the signs that I can do for you and reach what I want to reach.”

The Village settles in on San Martin

After its building on the south side of the square was sold to the county for planned use as a judicial center in April, the Village has relocated to 360 E.San Martin near Aldi. 

“They allowed me to stay there, and I probably could have stayed for a couple of years but I had plans to remodel so I just decided to move on,” owner Sheila Michaels told the BH-FP. “I didn’t want to soak the money into a building if I wasn’t going to be there, so I just chose to go ahead and move.”

Michaels said it didn’t take long to set her sights on a new space. It was important to find a spot that could accommodate the store’s inventory, she said. 

“I was approached by someone who had this space, and I looked at it and made a deal,” she said. “We looked around town a little bit but it’s hard to find a spot that’s big enough.”

The building didn’t exactly come boutique-ready, though, she said. It had been a gym beforehand. 

“It was actually blue and black in here before,” she said. “We also had to knock out a wall.”

Michaels said it took about 10 days to actually move in. 

Another key feature of the new space is location, she said. Between Walmart and Aldi, the area sees high traffic. 

“Everyone goes to Aldi and Walmart,” she said. 

Polk County purchased the three-story building for $233,000, according to previous BH-FP coverage. Presiding Commissioner Shannon Hancock previously told the BH-FP the long-term goal is to convert the building into a judicial center, which would house the Polk County court system and court administration. He told the BH-FP Monday, Aug. 5, that the county hasn’t made any immediate plans to act on that long-term goal. 

Country Lace leaves downtown

In an April interview with the BH-FP, Sparks labeled Village Boutique “an anchor business.”

“When you pull an anchor, you worry that other small businesses will leave, too,” she previously said.

That rang true for Country Lace Boutique owner Lacey Allison, who, after watching Village Boutique and another neighbor, The Well 4:14, plan moves, is now also planning to leave the square. Country Lace is also running out of room in its current space, she said. 

“We ran out of room and then a couple of our neighbors that we feed off of have moved,” she said. “Ladies would go get coffee or lunch and then shop both of us.”

Allison said the business currently takes up multiple floors of its space at 121 S. Main Ave.between walk-in customers and its growing online business. Its new space is south of the square at 451 S. Springfield Ave.

“We’re upstairs and we’re just kind of spread out all over,” she said. 

Allison said crews are still working on the business’ new space, which she’s anticipating will give them more room. She’s hoping to open in early- to mid-September after flooring and cosmetic work. 

FBC buys Roweton’s warehouse

First Baptist Church of Bolivar bought the Roweton’s Home Center warehouse north of the Roweton’s main store in December, church administrator Tom Stanford told the BH-FP Monday, Aug. 5. 

The church plans to renovate the space, which has previously housed a garment factory, a movie theater and a bowling alley, according to historical archives at the Polk County Genealogical Society, into a multipurpose room. See page 13A for a full story on the warehouse. 

“We didn’t do much with it over the winter while it was cold,” Stanford told the BH-FP, “but we’re putting on a whole new roof on it, and we’re starting on the rest of it soon.”

Jenny’s looks to the past

Jenny’s Dry Cleaning has been owned by Jenny Shelton and her husband, David, for 21 years. Their building at 215 N. Main Ave. has been home to dry cleaning business for 84 years, Shelton said.

The Sheltons are currently in the middle of a renovation effort to bring the building back to its former glory, Jenny Shelton told the BH-FP Monday. She’s just the fifth owner of the building, she said.

“We’re trying to restore it as close as we can to what it was,” she said. “Old buildings are much prettier than new buildings.”

Restorations to the ground floor have seen a bright half-circle window added back above the door. The change was made in the last week, she said. 

Upstairs, Shelton said they’re working to make space for the family’s seven kids when they come visit for the holidays. 

A previous owner had built a small apartment above the front of the building, and Shelton said the second floor actually has 10 rooms. 

Outside, David Shelton has rented a scissor lift to repaint the building dark red. Jenny Shelton said the two decided on the color after visiting Polk County North Ward Museum and deciding to paint their building to match. 

“We actually found a piece of brick on the ground and took it to the paint store and asked them to match it,” she said. 

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