Garden City’s Downtown area has continued to prove it is the heart of the city, and in recent years, there has been significant growth and developments. While several downtown businesses had shuddered their doors, now several businesses have recently opened and some are on the horizon of their opening day.

What’s new

Jessica Gallardo opened SageHouse Soaps, 312 N. Main St. on June 2. Her business offers an assortment of products, and unlike other stores, her products are all handmade.

“We’ve got everything from soaps, to lotions, bath bombs, bubble bath gift sets, oil diffusers and salt lamps,” Gallardo said. “I make everything here myself. I first saw a video online and it just looked interesting. So I was like, ‘Eh I’ll try it,’ and I just got hooked from that point. It started with soaps, and I added everything else on gradually.”

Gallardo also offers salt scrubs, lip balms, gift baskets and more.

Gallardo said her products work for all skin types. She herself has sensitive skin, which is another reason why she started making her products.

Some of her products also have essential oils, which are her favorite.

“Lemongrass is my favorite, but those (essential oils) are really popular with other people because there’s no extra additives or fragrances,” Gallardo said.

Since opening in early June, business has been steady, Gallardo said, adding that she has sold a mix of products so far.

“It just depends on the person and what they are looking for,” Gallardo said when asked about what her fan favorite products are. “Some people don’t like to take baths, so they go more for the scrubs and lotions and stuff, then I have other people who take baths every day, so they do the bubble baths and stuff.”

According to Gallardo, she’s always wanted to have her business in the downtown area because of its family friendly and nostalgic feel.

“I didn’t want to be in the new area where rent was a whole lot more expensive,” she said. “It’s just more comfortable down here.”

Unlike most brick and mortar stores, SageHouse Soaps sells its products online at www.SageHouseSoaps.com, where the business’ line up of products can be seen.

SageHouse Soaps can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Opening soon

While there are multiple projects for downtown in the near future, like the construction of a microbrewery, and several projects for 8th Street, two new businesses will soon open and add something that is currently not available in the downtown area.

"There are just so many projects and development right now. We’re either in the planning stage, the construction stage, or the opening stage," Deb Oyler, Downtown Vision board president said. “It’s exciting to see that people are interested in downtown, and that they are looking to be down there.”

Tumbleweed Thrift Boutique as well as Phil’s Grill are set to open in the near future.

Shanna Hageman is the owner of Tumbleweed Thrift Boutique, which will be located at 322 N. Main St.

“We are resale store that buys from the public seven days a week, so people can bring their clean and folded items in. One of our buyers will inspect, we won’t take any clothes that have any holes, stains or any other damages,” Hageman said “We look for name-brand and vintage labels, things that are in style the last few seasons, and then we offer cash price on the spot, or store credit at a higher percentage.”

Tumbleweed Thrift Boutique will sell teens, women's, and men's clothing, along with antiques and some consignment.

“There’s 2,000 square feet in the front that’s retail and 2,000 square feet behind that that will be for antiques,” Hageman said of her store’s set up.

Hageman, whose family moved to Garden City in the last year from Florida for her husband’s job, said she believes a business like Tumbleweed Boutique is something Garden City is missing.

“When we moved here, I was a little frightened by how remote the area is, and there’s not a lot of shopping, but I think it’s something that’s missing that we can support and that would help us kind of recycle as a community of what we do have,” Hageman said. “Garden City is sort of a unique beast, there’s no other business model that would look like this one because we don’t have a mall nearby.

… There’s a lot of things going on downtown, a lot of new businesses and life being injected, so hopefully we can be a part of that movement and make downtown cool again.”

Research has shown, Hageman said, that the average millennial wears a new garment one to five times before discarding it, and the average person discards almost 70 pounds of textiles every single year. “So for sure in this kind of area where we don’t have a lot of outlets, it would be something that would bring style and fashion at a budget price, and allow us to stop putting stuff in a landfill,” she said of her boutique.

Hageman said she decided to give her business name a taste of western Kansas after seeing tumbleweeds when she first moved to the area.

“When we moved out here, I was so shocked by the number of tumbleweeds that we’re rolling around here,” Hageman “It was something I had only seen in movies and thought it was so cool.”

She later saw a video of the science of a tumbleweed and how it only produces in its death by sprinkling seeds as it tumbles along.

“It kind of struck a neat cord with me spiritually, because I’m a Christian and I like the idea of something that is dead that can give life the way God gives us new life.” Hageman said. “It looks cool, and they’re everywhere around here.”

Hageman said her business is currently purchasing clothing from people in the community for resale. Since the business is not up and running yet, those interested in selling their clothing can contact Hageman through Facebook, at “Tumbleweed Thrift Boutique, Garden City, KS”, to set up an appointment.

“I don’ think we have anything like this…” Hageman said of her business. “The whole idea is that there’s something for every budget. If you have $10, you can come in and find something. If you have $100, you can come in and pretty much get a new wardrobe for the whole season. That’s the idea, it doesn’t price anybody out of looking stylish or cool.”

Downtown Vision offers various incentives and programs to help entrepreneurs open their businesses, and Tumbleweed Boutique was the recipient of two of them. The JumpStart Business Developer program as well as the Incentives Without Walls program.

With JumpStart, funds are used to offset rent and utilities for the first two years of the business — 50 percent the first year and 25 percent the second year. The money comes from a $24,000 grant from the City of Garden City. The IWW is a partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce. The incentive, available for businesses in the core downtown business district, allows entrepreneurs to receive up to $20,000 in loans for seven years at no interest. Funding for the program comes from the Department of Commerce. 

“It definitely makes it doable for a new business to take some risks and get started,” Hageman said of the incentives. “It would’ve been possible to open one without (incentives), but I’m not sure we would’ve opted for a downtown location or as big of a storefront.”

Phil Hoke will be opening Phil’s Grill, located at 125 W. Pine St., the former American Legion building, in the next two weeks.

Hoke, who is the theatre department director for Garden City Community College, said it was during a recent Region V Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival when he realized opening a restaurant — which was also on his bucket list —would be his next move.

“While we were there (at festival), one of the shows that was being presented was literally using CGI, (computer generated imagery)” Hoke said. "It was at that point that I realized, I’ve met my wall and it’s time to start looking for something else… Ultimately, I think I would like to open up a dinner theatre somewhere. I know the theatre side of it really well, and now I've got to get the dinner side of it really well, so with just combining the two worlds, I want to make it work.”

Phil’s Grill will have to two floors for dining. The lower level will serve as a bistro, serving soups, salads, sandwiches, lunches and more, while the upper level will serve as a family gourmet dining area.

“We’re going to do an all inclusive menu. It’s a price breaks menu — $10, $13, $15 — so when people come in, they’re going to know that their soft drink, in many cases an appetizer, their entrée and side and a dessert bite, they’re all included just for that price break,” Hoke said. “This one is designed for the downtown trade and we’re giving another option for folks.”

Three weeks after opening Phil’s Grill will be when the upper level, family gourmet dining area opens.

“We’re going to have a stable menu, but we’re also going to have chef’s specials,” Hoke said of the family gourment dining area. “Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, we’ll have a piano bar upstairs, because we have a beautiful grand piano up there…We just want this to be the talk of the town.”

While Phil’s Grill's menu will have classic items such as  hamburgers and sandwiches, it will also bring something new to Garden City, including bread bowls and dishes like the salmon patty sandwich, which will be a generous sized salmon patty served on an onion roll with cream cheese, chives, lettuce and tomato.

“It comes with homemade potato chips or steak fries,” Hoke said. “That one I think people will really enjoy.”

Prior to becoming Phil’s Grill, the building was a short-lived Italian restaurant named Il Giardino Italian, which was only open for seven months before closing its doors. The previous owners completely revamped the building, spending more than $2 million in renovations, giving it two kitchens and more.

Hoke intends to use both kitchens, as well as a wood burning pizza stove that was left in the facility. He said he will use the pizza stove to bake bread and bread bowls for the restaurant.

Because the building was in near pristine condition, Hoke has had to do little to no maintenance.

“It was just a matter of getting utilities on, seeing what needed repaired, then looking through the kitchen and converging from full-on Italian to that bistro idea and the family dining idea,” Hoke said. “We made some changes, but not a lot. Making those changes was kind of an important thing to do, but we came in here and it’s just beautiful… We feel really fortunate to have this all coming together at this particular time. We’re ready for folks to come in.”

Oyler said that the opening of new and different businesses also lines up with recommendations from a 2017 downtown market study.

“In that marketing study, we talked about finding that balance between retail and perhaps some different type of services, and I think that is all coming,” Oyler said. “It’s really happening and it’s kind of all happening at the same time.”

Recommendations from the study, which was conducted by Denver-based ArLand Land Use Economics, included focusing on restaurants and multi-functional facilities, expanding nightlife, enhancing downtown events, and refocusing redevelopment efforts on the Windsor Hotel and State Theatre.The last time a downtown market study was done locally was 2009. In working with the Neighborhood Development Services Department, Downtown Vision determined that an updated study was needed. City commissioners agreed in 2016 to fund the study, and in January 2017 commissioned ArLand to begin work on the study.

“One of Downtown Vision’s goals is for Downtown to become a destination. I think as more businesses relocate or locate downtown, I think that will just happen.. You can have your shopping during the day, and at the end of the day you can slow down and have a meal right afterwards,” Oyler said. “It really is becoming that community… I think people are discovering that downtown is really becoming the heart of the community and they want to be a part of it.”

Contact Josh Harbour at jharbour@gctelegram.com.