New Beginnings: Next step in 17-year entrepreneurial journey

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

Success in business is a persistent progression that yields its fruit over years instead of months.

Just ask Linda and Duane Gehlhausen.

This Saturday, the couple will open an expansion to their business on Huntingburg’s 4th Street. Hard to believe they started Gehlhausen’s Flowers and Gifts in 1999 in a ten-by-ten yard bar they purchased from Tom’s Lawn and Garden.

When they first started, Linda made flower arrangements and supplied gifts and decorations for special occasions like weddings and anniversaries. Later, Duane added bait and a small selection of tackle.

Then, in an expansion, a lean-to gave them a bit more room for displaying the pumpkins they grew on their property just a mailbox down from Linda’s parents’ farm. Back then, schools would bring kids out by the busload to pick pumpkins each year.

But, it was a struggle to get new customers to come out to the couple’s home. “They had to want to come out there even though it was only two miles,” Linda said. “You would have thought it was an hour drive.”

Through the encouragement of her parents, Irma and Alan Hasenour, Linda and Duane kept at it.

“It’s been a long road, but it’s working,” Duane said. “It was pretty tough the first eight or nine years. You put everything you have into it and it’s paying off now.”

“Dad always said, ‘Linda, if you build it, work it, and you treat people right, they will always come,’” Linda agreed. “And they always did.”

In 2009, they moved the business to 4th Street, and some things got a little easier, but new issues arose as these things go. Expanded lines of items, more customers, balancing the kids’ activities and their duties with the Huntingburg Merchants and other organizations. When you own a business, you’re always on the clock.

“I feel like every one of those little steps out there groomed us for being here,” Linda said about that move.

Since being on 4th, a move to about a block east meant they had to scuttle the bait shop — a blow to Duane who loved his fishing friends who stopped in regularly — but allowed for the flower and gift business to grow.

Then about two years ago, Linda started contemplating a second store. “You have to change, or eventually you get stale,” Linda said.

Unfortunately, Linda’s mom began to battle cancer and she and Duane decided to hold off on their next endeavor. “My attention was completely diverted for about a year and a half with that,” Linda said.

Irma succumbed to the cancer last June. Soon after, Duane and Linda began taking steps to open the second business on 4th St.

After updating the building at 415 E. 4th St. with some renovations and fresh, bright paint, New Beginnings By Gehlhausen’s will finally open for the first time this Saturday.

The store’s name signifies new beginnings in peoples’ lives like weddings, new homes, births or just those times when someone wants to update and refresh their home decor.

Gehlhausen’s Flowers and Gifts will concentrate on flowers and gifts while the home decor items they tested there will be moved to the new location with new merchandise.

Those lines will include handcrafted and artisan designed and mainly manufactured in the United States that the couple found while at the Atlanta home decor show in January. While at the show, Duane and Linda met with the craftspeople and artisans responsible for the new lines. They handpicked the wall decorations and clocks, unique kitchen- and dinnerware as well as fun grilling and entertaining accessories.

There’s a little bit of everything for everybody in the store.

“New Beginnings is for everybody,” Linda explained. “Every day you’ve got something you are faced with. You can make it good or make it negative, but we feel that with positives, you’ll live longer.”

Linda and Duane will operate the stores with their two employees, twins Emily Meyer and Elizabeth Wertman. The two were a huge help in getting the new store up and running, according to Linda.

“I feel very blessed,” Linda said. “We have exceptional employees, and they care about our hometown just like we do. We were born and raised here. We went to school with our customers and their families, and we go to church with them. We believe in Huntingburg.”

New Beginning’s phone number is 812-683-1099. The store is open Mondays through Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Sunday hours are in the works.

A grand opening is planned for this Saturday with a ribbon-cutting at 9:30 a.m. Door prizes and refreshments will be available.