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In Northwest Arkansas, in the heart of Springdale, sits a thriving shop called Euna Mae’s. Named after Granny Nelson, as loved ones called her, it’s a shop for the kitchen or foodie enthusiast, a store for those with strong memories tied to unique and nostalgic kitchenware. Within the walls of Euna Mae’s, customers not only find beautiful cookware, bakeware, linens, cookbooks, gifts, accessories, utensils, and tools… Guests also have the opportunity to step back in time, to re-live old memories, tell stories, and browse to their hearts’ content. Euna Mae’s is a little kitchen-y boutique that will stir the heart of anyone who happens to stop in.
The mission behind Euna Mae’s is simple… Amy’s hope is that Euna Mae’s inspires hospitality in your heart and encourages you to love deeply, welcome gladly, and serve faithfully so that in all things God will be praised. (I Peter 4:8-11)
I had a chance to visit with Amy Nelson Hannon, granddaughter of Euna Mae and owner of Euna Mae’s. We pulled up a kitchen chair in her shop and began to chat about Amy’s life, her grandmother, the business, and more.
As Amy and I chatted, I began to feel more and more at home. Amy was so easy to talk to, and I could relate to so many of the stories she shared. As she began to tell me about her grandmother, Euna Mae, she shared how Granny Nelson lived either up the street or across the street from her when she was a girl growing up in Mountain Home. Everything revolved around Granny Nelson’s home, and no matter where everyone lived, her home was the “gathering place” where they always ended up.
When asked how it all began, Amy began to tell about how she designed from home while at home with her kids. She ran a couple of design businesses from home; but as her kids got older, she began to feel the desire to do something outside the home. She and her husband are in full-time ministry, so hospitality and serving others is a dynamic, passionate part of Amy’s life.
“A lot of our life happens in our home, hosting small groups in our house. I enjoy cooking for people. We’ve hosted and fed people… I would feed people all day if I could. I love it. It’s my favorite thing.”
The more and more she cooked for others and hosted them in her home, the more those same people started encouraging her to share her recipes, to share where she found that “neat dish,” also letting her know how much she’d encouraged them in their own kitchens. Eventually, Amy realized her dream of opening up a very special boutique named after her grandmother.
“I feel like the Lord really laid it all out for us, all the steps. This is in my heart. I’ve done other things for a living, but kitchen, home, family, feeding people, has kinda been a constant for me, my thing.”
As I listened to her story and had a look around, the thing I found so interesting and so different from any other retail store is that many of the items that Amy sells in Euna Mae’s, she also uses and owns in her own kitchen at home. The items she chooses to sell truly come from the heart.
Of course, the foodie in me couldn’t help but ask which items Amy simply couldn’t live without. She named the reproduction milk glass in jadeite. Being one of the few people in this area who sells this particular American-made product, she loves it. She loves the nostalgia and the memories it evokes from people who come into the shop. She also named her Mason Cash mixing bowl and her Le Creuset. And, of course, she couldn’t resist adding wood spoons and a great cutting board into the mix.
When choosing to put down roots with her shop in Springdale, it was pretty much a no brainer for Amy and her husband. They’d lived here for almost 20 years and truly felt like this was home. With Springdale being the 6th fastest growing city in the United States, they really wanted to be a part of the excitement of this growing community. Amy explained, “For me, it just mattered to me because Euna Mae was my grandmother, and it feels like family and putting down roots. The inspiration for this store is family and community. It doesn’t belong to me in another city. It feels like a neighborhood store where people come in and visit… they laugh and they know each other. It feels like a small community store. I’m proud of Springdale, and I just wanted to be part of the early stages of this new push of commerce and shops and adding stores with personality. I wanted us to have some character.”
Euna Mae’s will celebrate its 1-year anniversary on May 8. As she held back tears, Amy shared, “Every day there is something precious, special, wonderful, that happens here. And it’s not always just about the kitchenware. It might be people that haven’t seen each other in years… It might be somebody who comes in and says that they’re baking, they haven’t cooked in years, and they’ve just been inspired to be in their kitchens again… Or they decided that they have young children, and as hard as it is for them to get a meal on the table because their kids are all over their arms and legs (which we’ve all done that), they’ve just been inspired to make a meal and get everyone around the table because it creates memories and conversation and a place to gather… There are a lot of everyday really special things that happen in here.”
When asked what part of her job she loves the most, Amy said the answer is two-fold…
“I love the products. I believe in the products. I think it’s all really functional and pretty. I love choosing it, I love getting it in the store, and I love when people see something that I’ve chosen and love it too. That’s the business-y side of it. But something special, and different than other retail stores, happens here. I could cry about it right now. It’s just different; it’s the people and the stories. People will come in here with not a reason in the world to buy anything and they just want to be here. The stories and the people and the customers and the relationships that we’ve formed with people and new faces… I mean it is probably the most surprising and most satisfying part of having a retail store… I didn’t expect that I would be as overwhelmed by how much I love that… The business part of it is hard work, but the rest of it… I really feel like is just the Lord’s favor. It’s great to get to sit here and watch neat things happen here and be a part of it.”
As we talked about our grandmothers’ recipe boxes (I have mine and she has hers… most prized possessions), we talked about how important it is to be handwriting our recipes for our own children and how special and precious those handwritten recipes are. She shared the story of one mother who came into the shop to purchase recipe boxes, filled with her own handwritten recipes, to give to her daughters as a special gift.
As a small business owner, Amy also shared a bit of advice for those who are considering starting their own business or shop. As a writer and a blogger, I found this to be so relevant to my profession, as well.
“Be passionate and pray and have a purpose and be true to that. I would say one of the things that I think makes Euna Mae’s different is that I knew what I wanted to do, and I am true to that brand. It happens a lot… Businesses or brands like this, small companies, spend all their time looking at what other people are doing; and they copy that, so they aren’t authentic at all. They are just another shop that sells the same stuff that they can get in 12 other places in their town. And it all becomes so cookie cutter that there’s not anything significantly unique about their store… Instead of focusing on what I want it to be like and what I want it to look like, how I want my place to feel, what I want to do to make my place so different or special or unique or valuable that it makes people come to me… I think people want authenticity. There’s nothing like this in Northwest Arkansas… Be you and be authentic to what got you there… Be true to your brand and make it authentic.”
If you’re planning a trip to the Springdale area, I highly encourage you to stop in and see all that this beautiful shop has to offer. Euna Mae’s is located at 1503 Carley Road in Springdale. Hours are M-F, 10am to 5pm; and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm. You can order products online, but there’s nothing quite like a real-life visit to Euna Mae’s. If you happen to be stopping by on a Friday, be sure to check out all the scrumptious homemade pies they have to offer.
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