Humboldt store trades hands

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February 23, 2010 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Terry Butts may live in a small town, but there’s nothing small town about her business, Terry’s Flower Shop, Home Decor and More.
The store, which began as Dodie’s in 2000, has grown a faithful customer base across southeast Kansas and has become a destination for shoppers from Wichita, Independence and her native Kansas City. Butts recently purchased the store from Dodie Copley, who will remain at the store in a semi-retirement position.
With the new name came a slight change in focus and a downsizing. Instead of occupying three buildings on the east side of the square, Butts opted to retain just the buildings at 103 and 105 S. Ninth, with the main entrance to the stores through the flower shop. The store will no longer take consignments and instead will put more energy in the flower business and items for the home.
“We’re essentially two businesses in one,” Butts said. The two lines help balance out each other’s slow times, she said.
Copley essentially rescued that portion of the square when in 1999 she bought the 125-year-old dilapidated building and in 2000 thoroughly renovated it. In 2002, she did the same for the flower shop.
“She comes from a family of investors in Humboldt,” Butts said of her good friend and longtime business partner.
Copley will continue to help buy for the store. When the time comes for traveling, it will be with an eye out for a unique lamp or mirror for the store.

BUTTS, 57, is a born retailer.
While other kids tore off tags to their new back-to-school clothes, little Terry set up shop hawking her clothes, tags intact.
“Everyone else played school. I played store,” she said.
Butts cut her retail teeth at Harzfeld’s and Adler’s department stores, once prominent retailers on Country Club Plaza in Kansas City. She learned the business through their management trainee programs. She has an associate’s degree in fashion merchandising from Johnson County Community College.
Her eye for detail may have come from her dad, a former electrical engineer, who among his many assignments designed sets for television studios.
It wasn’t until “the day I was married,” that Butts set foot in Humboldt, she said.
She and her husband, Chris, have stayed put the past 35 years. He is recently retired from a career at Monarch Cement — not that he’s had much of a break.
In short order, Chris Butts started a second career. He’s now a crop adjuster for a rain and hail insurance company.
Also, “he’s learned that you don’t move things just one time,” Butts said of her husband’s help around the store. Furniture, mirrors and lamps are constantly rearranged to always look fresh.
Despite a downturn in the national economy, business has remained good for the flower shop and home decor store, Butts said. She credits part of the store’s success for targeting a market not exclusive to Humboldt.
“We have to appeal to wider audience,” she said. She also tries to carry items not sold in Iola or Chanute, her closest competition.
As the town’s only flower shop, Butts is filling a need for fresh flowers and house plants. For home decor, the store’s specialty is lamps.
Butts describes her inventory of lamps, mirrors, chairs and smaller items as “urban country to contemporary,” and urges customers to balance “hard with soft” looks.
“A house should be a representation of who you are,” she said. “The great thing to home decorating is there are no rules.”
Though not a home decorator by trade, Butts has taken on projects, including the newly redecorated lobby of Allen County Hospital.
“I’m good with accessorizing, but I don’t do windows,” she said of window treatments such as drapes and blinds.

THE DECISION to buy the flower shop and home decor store brings Butts “full circle,” she said. It’s literal, because 34 years ago at 105 S. 9 St., Butts had the clothing store, Bottoms Up. 
“I love, love, love retail,” she said of the business.
But the demanding schedule of running a store came to a halt after having her son Tyler, now 31. Before long, though, she was back to selling, this time as advertising manager for Jackie Witherspoon, then publisher of the Humboldt Union.
Butts stayed with the Union for 12 years before becoming district manager of clothing store chain Maurice, for which she oversaw operations of 12 stores from the regional office in Chanute.
She then jumped back into the publishing business, again with Witherspoon, selling ads for Southeast Kansas Living magazine while also joining Copley at her home decor store.
Over the past five years Butts has worked with Copley helping with the store’s window and floor displays as well as making buying trips to the World Trade Market in Dallas.
On staff at the store is Judy Middendorf in sales and as bookkeeper, and Judy Daniels and LaDonna Krone in sales. All hold part-time positions.

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