Pam Wheeler, the owner of Genevieve’s at 1404 W. Main St. in downtown Blue Springs, has seen many changes since she first opened the doors of the cozy bungalow that features a variety of arts, crafts and clothing from local artisans.
“Well, we’ve been here five years, and that’s a big deal for a small business,” the Wheeler said, as customers checked out a variety of products in an environment that makes you want to slip off your shoes, settle into a comfortable chair and spend some time chatting with your new best friends.
There is a creative energy present that makes you want to seek out every nook and cranny of paper goods, jewelry and wide variety of clothing.
Next comes the warm glow that reminds you of your grandma's home – which fits, since Genevieve’s is named after Wheeler’s grandmother.
“Five years ago, when we first opened, we were more of a store that sold some paper goods and furniture,” Wheeler explained, “but over the years, we’ve made some changes. We sell a lot more clothes than we used to, and our clothes have become a popular item.
“Nothing is big-store, off the rack; they all come from local people – which makes them unique.”
As if on cue, a frequent customer enters Genevieve’s sporting as knit top that Wheeler said she has a hard time keeping it on the shelves because it has become such a popular item.
“We stress handmade,” Wheeler said. “We want items you purchase here to be unique, and they are. We found we couldn’t compete with the big-box stores when it came to things like furniture, so we switched gears and the results have been pretty amazing.”
And Wheeler speaks from experience about the corporate world. She was an executive at K&Company, one of the largest scrapbook manufactures in the nation, where she was the director of creative operation.
“Just hearing that makes me stress out a little bit,” Wheeler said. “My title was director of creative operation, but I was responsible scheduling, things like that, and we had to lay a lot of people off – and that was difficult, the most difficult part of my job.”
Now, the most difficult part of her job is deciding what new class to offer her clientele or which direction to take Genevieve’s to keep it new and thriving.
Wheeler must be doing something right as Genevieve’s was named The Examiner’s Decorating Store of the Year in 2015 and she was named The Blue Springs Entrepreneur of the Year the same year.
While Genevieve’s is the love of her business life - her top business priority - Wheeler has added a new hat to her collection as she was recently named the executive director of Blue Springs Downtown Alive.
“I was very active in Downtown Alive before I accepted the job after Cindy Miller – who did a wonderful job – stepped down after being the executive director since 2012,” Wheeler explained. “It’s about a 20-hour a week job, but right now, I’m putting in a few more hours than that.
“I’m proud of the work Downtown Alive has done in Blue Springs and we want to keep Blue Springs active, vibrant and growing.”
In 2016, Downtown Alive:
• Installed public art sculptures called “Remnants Restored,” that featured works or art created from material taken from the City Water Tower and America’s Community Bank's old facade.
• Received a grant from the Truman Heartland Community Foundation for the creation of four murals in the downtown district.
• Installed new park benches, trash receptacles, bike racks (donated by Bike Stop) and new city banners.
• Received a grant for library banners that will feature the work of Blue Springs industrial art class students.
New downtown businesses include Simply Frosted, Then & Now Jewelry, Kristilyne’s Beautiful Boutique and Salon, Middle Ground Coffee Co., Rustic Alley, Inklings Book Shoppe and Core Medical Center, a renovated chiropractic/health clinic that has given Main Street a bold new look.
Wheeler and her Downtown Alive committee are currently working on the annual Gypsy Prom, a gala set for 6 p.m., March 10 at the Adams Pointe Conference Center which benefits various Downtown Alive programs.
Her life is a whirlwind of activities right now, and when she wants to wind down, Wheeler enjoys the quiet serenity of Genevieve’s.
"Genevieve is the name of my grandmother and the inspiration for this store and much of my life," Wheeler said. "As a young girl, I couldn't wait to spend time with my grandparents on their farm in rural Missouri.
"At that time, there were no video games or cell phones. My grandmother and I would pass the time by working on projects. She taught me how to sew, knit, crochet and do counted cross-stitch. We pressed flowers from her garden and made hanging planters. The passion for all things handmade stayed with me over the years.
“I can look back and cherish those memories because it was a time when we could slow down, appreciate life and live in the moment."
Wheeler has never looked back or questioned her decision to honor Grandma Genevieve with a touching tribute to the woman who inspired a simpler way of life. Genevieve's offers anyone who enters its doors a chance to reflect, relax and create.
“It’s almost like we offer a form of ministry,” Wheeler said, smiling. “We’re like a barber shop – where the guys can go and talk about anything and get things off their chest. Well, the girls can come here and do the same thing. That’s something I never even thought about when we opened Genevieve’s and now, it’s become one of my favorite aspects of the store.”
Genevieve's is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Genevieve's accepts consignments and anyone interested in showcasing their creations at Genevieve’s can contract Wheeler at 816-220-3447.