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The Luckiest Purchase Ever! Magnolias In Downtown Norfolk

The Luckiest Purchase Ever! Magnolias In Downtown Norfolk

Amy Renter |

Our business was 20 years old and ready to grow again. After humble beginnings in my garage and basement, we had opened a shop in a downtown Plainview Nebraska building. This was a fantastic space to work, but 35 miles from the larger town of Norfolk that certainly drew all the shoppers for miles around. So, in addition to the Plainview store, we branched out and added a rented space in a downtown Norfolk building in 2000. After 2 years it was proven that 2 stores was too much. You never had what you needed in the right store! 

  We closed the Plainview business, sold the building and focused on the downtown Norfolk store. It was a nice space, but with increasing rents and many downtown businesses moving out, we soon began looking too. To increase visibility, in 2005 we moved to a strip mall near the shopping hub by the mall and Target. It did work for that purpose, Magnolias became known in the area as a quality home design store. There we added window coverings to our offerings along with decorating services. Again the rent became a burden and we began exploring a new location to potentially build our own building. 


After the frustrating realization that a building with enough space, the perfect location and a designer look came with a hefty price, we focused on renovating something already in place. That is when my mom, Rachel, found this downtown building. Not advertised, but certainly large enough and in a central location, this building would be a risk. It was not the hot trendy location, Downtown Norfolk was not experiencing much growth. We had already left there once before and had literally rented the building next door. This large building was ugly, it was dated, it was occupied, but it was CHEAP! 

Negotiations for purchase began. It felt like the building was for us. We trusted our gut and jumped in to the project with both feet! For less then the cost of our home, we could own this 2 level, double building in downtown. The owner new that by selling it to us for a lower price we would do the right thing for the building and restore it so everyone could appreciate it. 


 I have always been a do it once and do it right kinda gal. The planning was intense, but the building was revealing itself to become more beautiful then imagined. The work began removing the facade and we discovered beautiful brick, perfectly preserved behind the ugly metal structure. We had in fact, not been able to discover one clear picture of the historical front to prove what would be behind it. We were lucky enough to have a building that had not been defaced and were beyond excited by the outcome!

As the facade was removed we found that the brick and all the features were not defaced, but actually perfectly preserved for 40 years, protected from the elements.

As the work continued, more and more historical features were unveiled. It was a daily discovery of new old elements to incorporate into our design! These beautiful lavender glass windows were partially repurposed in the front and the newish tile was removed to reveal the old penny tile underneath outlining the original facade placement. 

In the planning process for renovating old buildings, you can guess, but you can't guarantee. The best part of this old building is that, with every feature found, the result was better then imagined, creating more character and charm. We knew how lucky we were to have secured this new home for Magnolias! 


The exterior had to be redesigned both front and back. It was a huge task. Some of the biggest challenges were just in reimagining the space! Seeing through the mess to what it could become. Like this garage for instance. It was pretty humble, but what about that ceiling! With a new facade and lots of windows it now is the best space to work and enjoy beautiful light all day long! 

Renovating this beautiful space took one year and one month from purchase. We were so happy to move our business and finally open in our forever home on July 26th of 2016! 

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