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Dayton Innovation: This specialty store offers something you can’t find online

Terri Bessler owns Midwest Memories Antiques in Tipp City.
Terri Bessler owns Midwest Memories Antiques in Tipp City.

The coronavirus pandemic is no match for the Dayton region’s innovative spirit. The Dayton Daily News is profiling small businesses in our region as they navigate through these challenging times. To nominate a small business, email Rebecca.Mullins@coxinc.com.

Business name: Midwest Memories Antiques Ltd

Location: 24 W. Main St. in Tipp City

Owner: Terri Bessler, for the past 11 years. Previous owner Ruth Safreed for 10 years.

Years in Business: 21

Number of Employees: 1 (just me), plus a group of wonderful friends who support me and give their time to make us a success. 

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Description of Business: Midwest Memories can be described as many things: an antique/vintage mall, a home decor store, even a paint store.  At the very core, what we are is a home. As a business we provide a home and support for over 70 individual small businesses. We assist them in setting up their displayed store front inside our store, help with pricing and merchandising, guide them promoting their store through social media and most importantly providing sale for them seven days each week while they work, take care of families and continue to work on items for their store front. We have many storefronts, spanning 10,000 square feet across two buildings, that sell vintage furniture and home decor, some of it repurposed and re-imagined. We have an entire store front of English-inspired resale clothing for men and women. There are tweed jackets, wonderful hats and shirts. We even have a large selection of Mid-Century Modern furniture and accessories. Many customers spend time within their favorite spaces to find inspiration for their own homes.

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What inspired you to start your business: I am the second owner of Midwest Memories Antiques. Ruth Safreed started Midwest in New Carlisle and was convinced by a friend to move it to historic downtown Tipp City. When my children we small, I assisted Ruth by helping in the store. I love vintage things as I had been raised mostly by my grandparents and it was a place I felt at home. When Ruth was ready to retire 11 years ago, I took over and have loved every day since. Ruth continues to have a storefront within Midwest over 11 years later and is still extremely supportive. I continue to be inspired every day by the creativity of our customers. Their joy and laughter makes it all worthwhile. I did find my own inspiration as a retailer of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, repurposing furniture and accessories, as well as mentoring others to do the same has become a true passion. I custom paint for other as well as sell Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and accessory products.

How has your business embraced innovation: Times have changed a lot in 11 years. Retail stores no longer have registers, we have computers. We work hard to maintain followers on multiple social media platforms. In store demonstrations are shared using YouTube videos. Even with all of those things and many more, the smile of each satisfied customer is still the best measure of success. In the age where everything is available the next day delivered right to your door, small downtown brick-and-mortar stores still thrive by becoming lifelong friends with their customers and offering something much more satisfying than an electronic shopping cart ever could.

What are your biggest challenges right now?  It was a challenge to be shut down and not know how long it was going to last and how much we would lose being closed. We used that time to clean and reset the store. We also searched for grant opportunities, but as a business without employees there weren’t may opportunities. Luckily we made it through, developed a daily plan for being open, which includes time for our storefronts to restock separate from the shopping public. By June1, we were back to operating seven days each week.

What is your biggest opportunity right now? We are thrilled to announce an amazing new adventure inside Midwest. Another great store from our downtown is moving their storefront into one of the many areas of our building. Birch is a boutique that features trendy clothing, graphic tees and home decor. We are so excited to offer them a home with us to support their business while they balance family and work life.

What do you want readers to know about your business right now?  Midwest will always strive to offer great items for our customers. We will never be afraid to make changes to our business that enables us to grow and be the best brick and mortar store we can be. We are open and full of wonderful storefronts, with many more waiting for the chance to work with us.