|Labor Day weekend 2005 is a memorable one for Sue Ott, owner of Blanche's on First Street. It is the weekend she opened her very own shop. She said that whenever she went into a shop and saw the shopkeeper behind the counter she told herself, "I would like to be that person. I want to do that some day." Now she is that person.
During a trip to Hermann last winter to visit her cousin, Becky Campbell, Sue's dream became a reality. While strolling along First Street, Sue noticed an empty storefront. She bought the building and began renovating it almost immediately with the help of Becky and her husband. "It's been fun, but it's been a lot of work, although it didn't seem like work," she explained. "I couldn't have done it without them."
Blanche's is named for the women's grandma. "We were really close so it was never a doubt that I would name the shop after her. She's always here with us." Sue attributes her strong work ethic and drive to Grandma Blanche.
While she'd like it to be, Blanche's is not Sue's only endeavor. "I do have another life," she admitted. Sue maintains a home in Crestwood, Mo., and works Monday through Friday as a payroll manager for a company in downtown St. Louis. She says for now she is able to keep the two jobs separate. On Friday nights she drives to Hermann to be at the shop over the weekend. Becky, who lives in Hermann, is shopkeeper during the week. It's a good arrangement for both women.
Blanche's features German imports, and Sue hopes to expand the German inventory. The shop carries a large variety of Christmas décor. "I love Christmas. Christmas will never go away from the shop," said Sue. In addition, shoppers can find products for the bath, candles, ornaments, home décor, crystal, baby gifts, and custom-made gift baskets. Gift wrapping services are free. While Blanche's is mainly a gift shop, Sue is considering bringing in some crafts. "Something is always changing," said Sue, who uses her drive time to Hermann each weekend to think about new ideas for the shop.
Blanche's is located at 230 East First St. Hours are 10-4 every day except Tuesday. For information, call the shop at 573-486-1500, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.