BY RACHAEL GRAY
TRIBUNE — The bell on the door at The Flower Shoppe in Tribune rang loudly and often Monday night as shoppers took advantage of extended hours during Tribune's Christmas Open House.
Koreen Woods, Stacy Woods and Laura Woods — partners in The Flower Shoppe — stayed busy, tending to customers and merchandise. Tara Mangan also is a partner in the business.
Despite the economic downturn in 2008, the women decided to take a risk and open the store.
During the past few years, like many store owners, the women have found customers in and around Tribune are faithful to local retailers.
"We said, 'We believe in our town. We believe in the spirit of this place, and we're going to give it our all.' And we did. It's coming back three-fold," Koreen Woods said.
Koreen also contributed to the beautification of downtown Tribune by putting flower pots around and planting flowers at different businesses.
Since then, store owners have been updating their buildings inside and out.
Koreen said the shop is on the list. Contractors in Tribune stay busy.
"Everybody is just swamped," she said.
To the north, on Broadway Street, owners Kellee and Chris Dixon have kept Dixon Drug going for 23 years.
Last winter, they added a cover to the north sidewalk, along with a heating system underneath.
"We basically decided to make the change. The ice is so bad during winter," Kellee Dixon said.
She said they also take advantage of the shade during the summertime for sidewalk sales.
Chris Dixon said many of the businesses downtown are remodeling or updating storefronts.
"I think it's been a big help in getting people down here. Koreen at The Flower Shoppe started doing the flower pots, and everything took off," he said.
At Gooch's, the local grocery store at the corner of Main and Broadway streets, the updating has taken place inside.
Dwight Gooch, store manager, spent about $100,000 on updates to refrigerated casing and shelves.
"You've got to keep up with things. People are more apt to be loyal if you keep things clean and updated," he said.
Gooch's is a staple in Tribune. The second-generation grocery store opened in August 1948.
Dwight's son, Jerad, is an assistant manager at the store.
Jerad said one thing has kept the store going.
"It's loyalty," he said.
Dwight's father, Harold Gooch, originally opened the store.
"We're just trying to keep up the tradition. It's very hard to do," Dwight said.
One of the most striking changes to downtown Tribune is the remodeling of First Tribune Insurance.
The new storefront features a log-cabin look with stone covered bases.
Carol Bloesser, owner, said the remodeling started in 2003 and continued from there.
Bloesser said the major change to the face of the building has prompted others to also remodel.
"It definitely helps. It encourages others and just kind of grows," she said.
On Monday night, Ginger and Howard Gibson shopped downtown.
They said they are proud of the downtown and the changes and updates being made.
"There have been a lot of storefronts that have been updated. It makes the town appear more vital," Ginger said.
The couple said they do a lot of shopping in town, although they do occasionally travel to Garden City for purchases they can't find in Tribune.
"Once every six weeks, I'll get away to Garden City. Other than that, it's pretty much here," Howard said.