Hutchinson-based Apron Strings store to have second shop in Delano

WICHITA — There’s good news for Wichita fans of Hutchinson’s Apron Strings shop.

Owner Anne Dowell is opening a second kitchen and dining store in Delano in June.

“We have a lot of good customers out of Wichita now, so hopefully we can be a little closer to them and gain a lot more,” she says. “There just seems to be a need in Wichita. There isn’t any other store like ours.”

The Apron Strings tagline is, “Be practical with style.”

“We do a lot of gifts out of here, but we also do a lot of practical tools,” Dowell says. “We have anything for the dining room or kitchen, but not furniture.”

That includes linens, decorative dishes, cutting boards, mixers, cookbook holders and wine glasses among other things.

The store will go in about 3,000 square feet at 810 W. Douglas, which is the space Lady Grace Boutique is leaving at the end of March. That store is moving to George Holland’s development at the northwest corner of Kellogg and Tyler.

Dowell says Delano is very similar to the Main Street area where her shop is in Hutchinson.

“We are in a historic area. We are in a old building that’s been renovated. . . . It’s got more character and personality.”

That’s what she says she found in Delano.

“It just seemed to feel right.”

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Willow Group lands Texas-size franchise deal for 14 new ‘Til We Meet Again stores

UPDATED — On the heels of getting its first franchise in April, the Willow Group has inked a deal with an undisclosed group for 14 ’Til We Meet Again stores in Texas. All of them will be open no later than 2014.

“It’s huge,” says Nathan Smith, who is partners with Traci Smith-Cone in the venture.

The two opened the custom casket store in Towne West Square in 2010 with no plans to franchise.

That changed, though, and in April they landed their first franchise with a store in Glenbrook Square Mall in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Smith says they’ve just finalized a deal for a Milwaukee store, though the franchisee hasn’t signed a lease for mall space yet, and are close on a three-store deal in Phoenix.

Smith thinks the Texas deal will help him and Smith-Cone close other deals.

“For the folks that are out there that we’re talking to right now … those guys that are on the fence … seeing that definitely gets them off the fence quickly,” Smith says. “It helps legitimize what we’re doing.”

He says it gives other potential franchisees a sense of security to know “they’re not the first ones, and they’re not doing this by themselves.”

Smith says he and Smith-Cone have the infrastructure in place for the rapid expansion.

“That’s what is the best part about what we’re doing here and what makes this work,” he says.

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Sports Time Fan Shop expands into former Satchel Creek Steaks space at Cambridge Market

WICHITA — With Satchel Creek Steaks leaving Cambridge Market for Andover, as Have You Heard? reported Monday, Tad Snarenberger saw an opportunity for his Sports Time Fan Shop.

“Them vacating is very advantageous for me,” he says.

He’s in his fifth year at the center at 21st and Webb, where he has about 4,000 square feet and sells “anything you can stick a college logo on.”

Snarenberger is taking Satchel Creek’s former 1,900 square feet.

“My issue is I don’t have enough space to display properly,” he says.

For instance, he has numerous types of Shocker shirts all squeezed into one rack.

“Look, we’re just too tight.”

Snarenberger says he wants to “give KU, K-State and Wichita State University their due.”

Each school will have its own wall once construction is done.

Snarenberger will create two arches in the wall that currently divides his store from the former Satchel Creek space.

He says his “game plan” will be to make that new space the House Divided, with one wall for KU and one for K-State.

That will allow him more room in the store’s original space for WSU items.

Construction will start this week, and the new space will be ready in about three weeks.