Connie Brunner discusses opening her store C'est La Vie in downtown Abilene. She has more space and more traffic in the new space in the Steihauser Building on North Third.

If you need it, there’s a chance you can find it in downtown Abilene, almost everything in walking distance.

You can live there, of course.

Rob Hammatt has bought the west end of the “Post Office Block,” 115 NW Third. Recently it has been known as the Etherington Building, but Hammatt plans to call it the Perring Building, in keeping with its designation on the Kansas and National Register of Historic Places.

His historic property sign came recently, with the Perring name.

“I’m very excited about it,” he said, showing it off.

The second floor will have two apartments, one studio and one two-bedroom, he said. They’ll still have the 12-foot ceilings and 7 1/2-by-3-foot windows. The original wood floors are being sanded and refinished, he said. They should be ready to rent in September, Hammatt said.

Food options

Downstairs, he’s still deciding what to do with the north end, but the south end will be a breakfast-type cafe. It will offer a different cuisine, he said, but he wasn’t ready to say what just yet.

For dinner, just half a block away, Texcoco Mex Grill is opening at 311 N. Spruce soon, according to its Facebook page. The owners did not respond to a request for information.

Half a block west on Third Street from the Perring Building, Brandi McNutt opened Greening Boutique last month.

McNutt has sold her baby clothes and costumes online for five or six years, but was ready to get her office out of the house, she said.

She also wanted to give people an opportunity to buy handmade products.

“They’re more special when they’re handmade,” she said.

Besides the baby booties, tutus, pants and headwear McNutt make, Greening also offers handmade local gifts, furniture, cards, and soap, among other items.

And for fun, mostly young customers can design their own slime at the slime station — colors, viscosity, add-ins.

Greening occupies a small space next to Clipppers, which recently moved from 214 N. Cedar. Into that space is going one of the most-awaited new businesses in Abilene, Midwest Sno Cones and Creamery, which will offer ice cream in addition to its popular sno cones year-round.

Co-owner Emily Miller said the store should open sometime in September.

Across the street, at 206 N. Cedar, Jennifer Morton is remodeling an old ceramics shop for her counseling office, Stepping Stones.

She’ll offer individual, couple, family and some group therapies there by the end of September. In the meantime she’s working on her clinical license and, next year, hopes to become a court-appointed mediator.

The building was the right size and at the right price, she said, so they bought it.

“I’ve always liked the downtown area,” Morton said.

Her family used to own a restaurant downtown, so she’s familiar with the area.

Morton is looking forward to being able to work in town; she’s at an out-of-town agency right now.

Next door to the Perring on Third Street, Connie Brunner has taken over the Steinhauser Building. She moved her Cedar Street Antiques store from the United Trust Building on Third and Cedar streets.

Her old space is being used by Cowork Abilene, which is expanding already.

Tray and Jennifer Green officially opened Cowork Abilene on the second floor of the United Trust Building on June 1. Cowork Abilene offers temporary office space and services to short-term or long-term clients.

A ribbon-cutting for the ground-floor space will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the offices, 300 N. Cedar.

“When Tim Holm and Doug Smart bought this (Steinhauser) building, they asked if I’d be interested in partnering with them,” Brunner said, about her move.

The move has been good for Brunner, in the month she’s been in the new space.

Location, location

“We are absolutely amazed at the difference in the traffic two blocks can do in a community,” she said. “No one found us down there.”

That told her two things, she said, that either the community of merchants isn’t good about sharing where the other stores are or that the layout of downtown is not conducive to more from one space to another.

C’est La Vie, offering furniture and decor, takes up much of the floor space, but Brunner has three other businesses in the building.

She is a designer, and Third and Vine Design, her studio in the back, gives her room to lay out samples.

Also in the back is a garden center, where people can buy plants and get help with design from a master gardener.

On the west end is a stationery store, Paper Moon.

Everything in the stores is American-made, Brunner said, preferably, locally made. And whenever possible, she buys her stock from women.

Buying American and buying local, “that’s the only way our community will be saved, as far as I’m concerned,” Brunner said.

“We need a healthy downtown. All the businesses are hanging on by a thread. Healthy shopping tourism will help in so many different ways.”

She wants to see her success move block by block, hoping to see more boutiques, a couple of more restaurants, trees on the streets to soften the streetscapes.

“All of these small businesses, all of them, are on the verge of falling and going away,” Brunner said. “Now everyone shops at Target or Walmart, no one supports these local businesses like they should. It’s becoming a big problem. When people make these buying decisions, they have a lot to think about.

“I would love to see our biggest issue is a parking problem.”

Contact Jean Bowers at

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