Tag Archives: shopping

Omaha Tourism Trivia

August 26, 2016 by

With the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in the city this past summer, out-of-town visitors were front and center, but do you know how many out-of-towners visit Omaha during a typical year?

Take a guess:

A    250,000

B    1.2 million

C    750,000

D   11.9 million

If you guessed B or C, you are like most people we ask, but the answer is D. According to research conducted by Tourism Economics—an Oxford Economics Company, 11.9 million visitors come to Omaha every year. We define a visitor as someone who travels to Omaha from more than 50 miles away. About 60 percent of those are day visitors, folks who travel in from places like Shenandoah, Iowa, to go shopping, out to eat, to see their doctor, or to take in a performance and then return home. The other 40 percent are overnight visitors—people who come to visit relatives, families who want to enjoy a long weekend getaway, fans who travel to Omaha for sporting events or concerts, convention delegates, and business travelers. While we at the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) don’t have much control over where your relatives live, or with whom you do business, we do have an impact on leisure travelers and convention delegates.

Our convention sales team focuses on bringing convention business here. They travel the country promoting Omaha to groups such as the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives, which met in Omaha in July. The organization is made up of 200 associations that also hold meetings throughout the year, so this one meeting could garner even more convention business in the future for the city. Last year alone, the convention sales team was responsible for 291 meetings here in Omaha, and those meetings brought in more than $125 million to our local economy. 

Our marketing team focuses on building Omaha’s reputation as a great leisure destination, a place where families, couples, and friends can enjoy a fun getaway. In addition to purchasing national advertising to brand Omaha as a visitor destination, the marketing team also targets the drive market, a 250-mile radius around Omaha. A 10-month-long regional advertising campaign in Kansas City, Des Moines, and Sioux Falls paid off. According to independent surveys conducted by Scarborough Research, a total of 402,212 visitors from those cities came to Omaha for an overnight visit during 2015, a 9.3 percent increase over 2014. Think about it: if each of these visitors spent $100 while in Omaha, that’s a $40 million payoff for our city.

So next time you’re on Jeopardy and they ask how many people visit Omaha each year, aim high…we do. B2B

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

An Omaha Christmas Story

December 23, 2014 by
Photography by The Nebraska State Historical Society

When Bill Eustice first saw the movie A Christmas Story, he thought, “I’ve been there. That’s me.”

Just like Ralphie in the classic holiday movie, Bill Eustice as a child was enthralled by a department store at Christmas. His store was Brandeis in downtown Omaha in the 1950s.

The anticipation of seeing Brandeis store windows light up for the holidays kept Eustice and his mother anxiously driving up and down 16th Street.

They were waiting. And waiting. Hoping to see the beautiful window displays finally appear. It was a major event in Omaha at the time.

“We drove around weekends until the day they were revealed,“ he says. “Brandeis was so secretive about it.”

Finally the day arrived. Eustice thinks it may have been right before Thanksgiving. Crowds formed to see inside the five windows. The brightly lit displays were left burning all night.

Eustice remembers mechanical Santas and reindeer in motion in the window displays. He became wide-eyed seeing a toy train run around and around.

“All the time, kids would be in front of the store, looking at the windows, gawking,” he says. “The windows got more elaborate as time went on over the years.”

Even today when he walks by the windows of the downtown Brandeis building just a few blocks from the law office where he is an attorney, memories come rushing back.

“It was a magical childhood. Everything was still new,” says Eustice. A visit to Santa Claus and his elves was another highlight. “It was kind of scary. Some kids cried.”

He says it’s an era that no longer exists. “Today you go to a shopping center, it’s just a small segment of the mall. Whereas with Brandeis, the whole store was magical.”

He remembers that his first ride on an escalator was at Brandeis. Escalators were something of a novelty at the time.

Now when he visits the Brandeis building—which closed as a department store in 1980—he spots the same Romanesque pillars that fascinated him when he was a boy. “And the Art Deco elevators haven’t changed.”

There was Toyland, a wonderland. “I used to hang around the toy department while my mom shopped,” he says.

And restaurants. “The basement had a restaurant called Hamburger Heaven. I thought it was a great name and still is for a kid.”

At times, he would go with his mother to her favorite Brandeis restaurant, The Tea Room, the “place to be” at the time. With six restaurants in the building, Brandeis fed 10,000 people a day and most likely more during the holiday season.

The wonderland that was Brandeis at Christmastime is a memory Eustice will never forget. “As a kid, you were seeing everything in black and white on TV,” he says. “Then you went downtown and saw those colorful displays.

“Life was simpler back then. Everything looked like Leave it to Beaver.”


Stress-Free Style

February 5, 2014 by

January and February are the big retail sale months of the year. We’re lured into stores and onto websites by ads, coupons, and incentives of all kinds. They bombard us in print, on television, radio, and billboards, on our phones, and through every social media platform. A sense of urgency wakes us in the middle of the night so we can save big at that “Early Bird” 6 a.m. opening. We sometimes wait in line for a sale that disappoints. Once inside, cluttered merchandising can overwhelm us. We frequently end up compromising on sizes, and our search for sales associates is usually endless. That’s all part of the hunt, but most of us leave stores with merchandise we never intended to buy. It sits in our closets forever, often with tags intact, taunting us with “But I was a bargain!”

Sale shopping for shoes is the worst! In-store shoppers make a mess of things, scattering shoes, tissue paper, and boxes everywhere.

I feel terribly guilty every time I send exhausted salespeople to the back room for yet another size to try. And if you buy sale shoes online, your savings opportunity hinges on the hope that they arrive absolutely perfect in every way. The risk factor is higher here because return shipping is usually not free. Repacking time and shipping fees can make the experience both futile and costly. And you still don’t have shoes.

Online sales of any kind can be just as frustrating. Seems like almost everything I finally resolve to order is no longer available in my size. So why did I just waste hours searching my favorite sites on a quest for a “great buy” that’s “really me?”

I can’t tell you that I have great strategies for online shopping, but there are some basic tips to ensure that your in-store adventures are successful and relatively stress-free:

Take inventory of your wardrobe. Go through your closet and get rid of everything that shows wear. Start a list of what needs replacing.

Look over the things you want to keep. Coordinate them with what you have. If you realize there’s a pant or skirt you love that’s now missing a mate, add to your list these key “enabling” pieces to buy.

Don’t forget to go through your accessories to determine what to buy as you update your wardrobe.

If you have favorite sweaters and tops that need scarves, photograph them and refer to them on your phone when sorting through the dozens of possibilities you’ll encounter.

Now you’re ready to finalize the list of what’s in your sights. Be specific and detailed.

Dress for shopping! Wear clothes that are easy to get on and off. Basic black provides a good “grounding palette.” Wear minimal, if any, jewelry.

Do not carry a heavy handbag. Wear a lightweight cross-body bag so you can easily sort through racks with 
both hands.

Leave your coat in the car if possible.

Pay close attention to your list. Do not yield to temptation unless you know that any “off-list” items will be both right for you and a strong complement to your closet.

To avoid crowds, shop weekday afternoons.

Remember, most stores are good about returns. Take things home to try on at your leisure and to test with other pieces. Save your receipts and respectfully make any returns as soon as possible.

And the most important rule of all? Never forsake quality for price.

Mary Anne Vaccaro is a clothing and product designer and an image consultant to businesses and individuals. www.maryannevaccaro.com She is also a sales consultant for Carlisle and Per Se, New York. 

Tips for Black Friday

November 26, 2013 by

Black Friday is the day right after Thanksgiving and also marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Retailers open their doors as early as 4 a.m., offering tremendous “door buster” sale prices to crowds of anxious bargain hunters. In order to ensure shopping efficiency, make a list of what you need at which stores, as well as each store’s opening times. Then plan accordingly.

Here are some tips to make your Black Friday a little easier:

  • Use the buddy system. By shopping in groups, you can have a friend wait in line while you go back for something on their list. Or one of you can run to get refreshments.
  • Use store maps to plot out which departments you need to hit and how to move between them.
  • Don’t be distracted by items that will throw off your budget or time constraints.
  • Remember that you should still be on guard for potential thieves. Be mindful of where you store your finds and know that people may be watching. Also, never leave your purse or wallet unattended.
  • Check out sites like blackfriday.com that offer online ads and deals for major stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Target.
  • Know your limits. Set a realistic budget with a little room for flexibility. If you saved some here, you can spend it there.

This year, Black Friday is November 29th. But don’t forget, there are also plenty of good deals immediately following on Small Business Saturday and online during Cyber Monday.

Shop Around the Corner

November 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

In September, Jessica Misegadis swore that Shop Around the Corner would never relocate again. “I hated moving,” the co-owner of the secondhand shop said at the time. “I don’t want to ever do it again.” Business partner Geri Hogan tutted, “Never say never.” There’s a reason such sage advice doesn’t go out of style. This December, Misegadis and Hogan will set up shop for the third time as they move to the Kraft building on 16th and Leavenworth streets to get away from the expense of their previous Old Market location.

Patrons should be able to once again browse Shop Around the Corner’s magical shelves in time for the holidays, Misegadis says. In fact, you may find more than you bargained for: Shop Around the Corner will actually be inside a new, third storefront of The Imaginarium, owned by James Kavan. Thrift-loving explorers may run across vintage clothing, furniture, dishware, records, gilt picture frames, or even old-school arcade games.

Is there anything they don’t sell?

“I mean, we’re willing to look at anything,” says Misegadis. “There aren’t any certain items we don’t sell.” She and Hogan are the friendly faces you’ll see on any given day at the new Imaginarium, managing their Shop Around the Corner as well as the larger antiques mall surrounding their own vending.

The easy banter of the two rather stylish women is misleading—they haven’t even known each other a year. They met, in fact, while working at the original Imaginarium, an antiques shop on 13th and Howard. “We just started talking about clothes one day and saying, ‘We should open a vendor booth together,’” Misegadis recalls. “And the next thing you know we did.”

That’s apparently a side effect of mentioning an idea within earshot of Kavan. “Within a couple days, we were looking at a place with keys in our hand,” Hogan says. “I mean…we had keys!”

The original Shop Around the Corner opened in March of 2013. The 15th, to be exact. “Here, I have it written on a dollar bill, look,” Misegadis says, pulling out a framed George Washington. A lot has changed between then and now. For example, there is no more crying in the fitting room. “That first day, I cried because I was terrified,” she says. “Can we do this, what if we can’t do it?”

Just a few months later, the answer is, well, of course they can. Hogan is an experienced vintage clothing vendor, and Misegadis learned everything she knows about antiques from one of Omaha’s best-known sellers, Susan Hoffman Brink. Brink, who owned Second Chance Antiques, passed away last April. “I didn’t know anything about antiques before I met her,” Misegadis recalls. “She was a very fair person. If something was worth more than what someone was asking, she would tell them. She taught me how to check if jewelry was signed, she taught me how to check age on things…she was amazing.”

Speaking of jewelry, Hogan brags that Misegadis is the brains behind the jewelry selection of Shop Around the Corner. It’s true she has a certain flair for the shiny, decked out as she is in a Whiting & Davis mesh necklace and snake bracelet.

“Well, Geri is the one who finds the most unbelievable vintage clothing,” Misegadis counters. “I don’t even know how she finds things from the ’30s in this great condition…I mean, you just don’t see it.”

Hogan shrugs. “It just happens. I dig, like you do.”

The clothing offered by Shop Around the Corner is varied and not just vintage. Contemporary brands are sprinkled throughout, though gems such as plus-sized vintage, designer labels, and men’s and children’s fashion have their own special sections. “We’re trying to keep it organized,” Misegadis says. “We like to be able to send people to one area to find what they’re looking for.”

Of course, there are always those special little items that a shop owner might decide to put back for herself. “There was the Egyptian ring in the front case,” Misegadis says, “and I had got it from Susan. Someone was really wanting to buy it, but they put it back. So it’s at home now because I was like, I’m taking this.”

“You do get attached,” Hogan agrees. “You’re never going to see some of these things again.”

The Olde Towne Elkhorn Girls

August 27, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

To some, “small town” can imply limits, not too much to offer, even boring. But to others who know better, the term small town suggests friendly people, strong values, and off-the-beaten-path variety. The merchants of Olde Towne Elkhorn are working together to promote the latter identity and are slowly but surely being discovered.

Just a few blocks west of the busy highway that is 204th Street, you’ll find a quiet street lined with plenty of unique spots that bring about a shopping experience that will satisfy and surprise those not already familiar with Olde Towne.

“We’re still kind of a secret, but I think it’s growing more and more,” says Andrea Ramsey, owner of Andrea’s Designs. It’s a unique combination of women-owned businesses, as well as the camaraderie that these women share, that has helped this small business district become a welcoming and fun place to spend an afternoon.

The shops range from home furnishings and décor, to clothing and jewelry, to a haven for local artists and those with a green thumb. And while the shopping will satisfy a variety of styles and tastes, the owners of these businesses have one goal in mind…to support one another.

“We’re still kind of a secret, but I think it’s growing more and more.” – Andrea Ramsey, owner of Andrea’s Designs

Andrea’s Designs specializes in traditional home décor and furniture. Ramsey is an interior decorator and works with fresh flowers as well.

Leona Anderson, owner of Little Scandinavia, has had her shop for seven years. This little haven of all things Scandinavian has more than the customary moose and Viking-related items. It also offers sweaters made of Norwegian wool, Danish jewelry, and a small section devoted to food and drink favorites from the region. The store is welcoming and cozy, especially when Anderson greets you with a cup of coffee and home-baked goodies.

Anderson has seen the community grow in recent years. “Each one of these women brings something unique and fun to our downtown,” she says. “We have a good time when we get together.”

Studioviews, owned by Deb Trowbridge, had its grand opening last April. The studio offers lessons in working with clay and slab pottery, as well as original works. Trowbridge and her partner, Colleen Riordan, also do commission work such as custom mosaic countertops and backsplashes.

“It’s really charming and has a lot of character. I think people miss that.” – Karly Van Wie-Olson, owner of Karly & Company

Across the street, Karly Van Wie-Olson opened Karly & Company last November. While she specializes in home décor and gifts, Van Wie-Olson describes her style as more rustic with a mix of contemporary. She is also an interior designer for both residential and commercial spaces. She says that her experience with Olde Towne has been wonderful. “It’s really charming and has a lot of character. I think people miss that.”

She also appreciates the way the women all support one another and work so well together. “I love the people here.”

One way the Olde Towne group has found success in promoting each other’s businesses is in starting “Second Saturdays.” The promotion, which includes several but not all of the 21 downtown shops and eateries, allows customers to earn one “Olde Towne Buck” for every $20 they spend at participating shops on the second Saturday of every month. The shopkeepers will hold an annual auction in which customers can bid on items donated by participating stores. This free event includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

An old church houses Kelli Fuglsang’s shop, This & That & Other Stuff. Since moving in last October, Fuglsang has enjoyed working with the other ladies along Main Street. “I didn’t know what to expect being down here…we’re kind of off the beaten path.” She adds that they all look out for each other. “It’s phenomenal. I’m so happy to tell anybody that comes in about any of the shops…how to get to them, what they have…”

“If somebody’s running late, we’ll go stick a note up on the door or we’ll go in and help them out in their shop. It’s just really supportive.” – Michele Minnick, owner of The Garden Gallery

Using the shortcut that Fuglsang tells her customers about, you can find The Garden Gallery. At first glance, it appears to be the yard of a busy gardener; you soon discover that this is not the run-of-the-mill flower garden. “I specialize in really unusual annuals, perennials, and tropicals,” says owner Michele Minnick. Open year round, she also works with mums, poinsettias, and bulbs. Visitors will also find fun potting containers and garden art and accessories to help create your own “Fairy Garden.”

“They’re one of the biggest trends,” says Minnick. Legend says that these miniature gardens and their fairies will watch over your own garden and can include anything from tiny bridges, trees, ponds, pathways, and birds and nests.

Inside the Garden Gallery house, shoppers will find more unique pieces for, well…inside the house. The rooms of the old home have been converted to showrooms filled with fun clothing, jewelry, home décor, and art, much of which is supplied by as many as 25 to 30 local artists, including Minnick herself. “I do more whimsical paintings,” she says as she points to the brightly colored canvases.

Minnick’s been in Olde Towne for several years and says that she loves the community of which she has become a part. “It’s neat, because all of us are different.”

The neighborly atmosphere cannot be missed. “If somebody’s running late, we’ll go stick a note up on the door or we’ll go in and help them out in their shop,” she says. “It’s just really supportive…It’s good.”

If you’re looking for a fun, friendly, and unique shopping excursion, Olde Towne Elkhorn will not disappoint. Bring your friends—and make new ones—in Olde Towne.

Be sure to check out Olde Towne Elkhorn’s blog at oldetowneelkhorn.blogspot.com and stop out for the next Ladies Day Out, Sept. 21 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Let’s Go Antiquing

August 16, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Old Market has always been the place to find those unique items…things you wouldn’t find anywhere else. Nowhere is that more true than in the variety of antique shops in the area.

Whether you are looking for a specific item, enjoy antiquing, or just like to spend the afternoon reminiscing, each of these shops is a must-see and a great way to spend the day with friends.

While a bit off the beaten path, The Antique Annex, located at 1125 Jackson St., is a small shop that offers a lot. Owner Joe Dempsey opened the shop nearly two years ago but has many years of experience in dealing and selling antiques.

“We’re kind of in a weird location and don’t get as much traffic as a lot of other stores,” he says. This presents a great opportunity to find that treasure before someone else does. He explains the dealers he works with focus in on more decorative household items. “We deal a little bit in the more high-end stuff. You don’t have to search through a ton of [stuff] to find the nice things…they’re already here.”

Dempsey says that the hot items people are searching for now are furnishings and accessories from the 1950s: Lucite chairs and more industrial-type items. “We get a lot of kids finding things for their apartments.” Many are looking to give their downtown loft a unique, retro look. But he also sees everyone from moms to high-end collectors. “We see a little bit of everybody.”

Just across the street at 1116 Jackson St. is Second Chance Antiques, an Omaha staple that carries “pretty much everything from clothes to furniture,” says Elysia Jarvis, acting manager of the shop. “We get new stuff all the time. That’s the fun part. People will come in almost weekly because they know there will be something new to look for.”


It was Jarvis’ mother, Susan Hoffman Brink, who opened Second Chance in 1971 and loved every minute of the 40-plus years she ran the shop. Brink passed away last April, but it was her dream for the business to continue. Her family and friends are dedicated to making her dream a reality. They are currently in the process of moving to a new location, just west of the Old Market on 14th and Harney streets. Quite the feat, as the two-level warehouse is packed full of fun finds: The basement is full of retro-style clothing and accessories. The main floor holds everything else you can imagine: dishes, décor, furniture, old photographs, and knick-knacks.

Some items have an obvious use, while others…well, the usefulness is in the eye of the buyer. “We find Pinterest has helped us a lot,” says Jarvis. “We can’t keep a door knob in-stock because people use them [to make] coat racks. People come here because they know they can’t get [these things] new. So it makes some really, fun unique things.”

“It’s better than Ikea!” exclaims one family friend who helps out at the store. This eclectic shop, as well as its eccentric team, makes Second Chance a fun place to get lost for the afternoon.

Another fun place to get lost antiquing is Fairmont Antiques & Mercantile. From the outside, it appears to be a retro-candy store, but venture a little further inside, and you soon discover that the shop not only appeals to your sweet tooth but to the sweet memories of your childhood and beyond.

“We specialize in an experience,” says General Manager Mark Kocsis. “When people come in, we like to give them a big ‘Wow!’” Owner Larry Richling opened the shop in the old Fairmont Dairy building at 1209 Jackson St. nearly three years ago, combining his retro-candy business and his antique business into a one-stop wonder-shop.

Along with the candy shop, the store offers many kinds of sodas, “Mostly retros and things you haven’t seen in years.” Deeper into the shop, customers will find treasures that will immediately transport them back to a simpler time.

This store offers more than antiques—it offers nostalgia: record albums, posters, toys, classic metal lunch boxes, clothing, furniture, even classic signage and historical hometown memorabilia. After you’re done shopping, take time to enjoy the authentic soda fountain or catch a classic film in the store’s private movie theater.

“If you just sit here and watch people come in…boom! They get this huge smile on their face,” says Kocsis. “That is so neat to see.” With items from over 25 dealers and new pieces coming in daily, visiting Fairmont will be a new experience each and every time you walk through the door.

Antique Annex
1125 Jackson St.

Second Chance Antiques
1116 Jackson St.

Fairmont Antiques & Mercantile
1209 Jackson St.

Fashionably Late

July 22, 2013 by

I wish I could be the cool and fashionably late gal. But as it turns out, my body doesn’t process late or fashionable. There’s just one thing I put off until the last minute: buying school clothes. Aside from my disdain for clothes shopping, there’s reason in waiting until the very last minute—my kids grow, and they grow fast.

Being a six-footer since I was 12, you’d think I’d be completely aware of fast-growing kids. But just a glance at my kids’ feet and I’m overwhelmed. “Growth spurt” in our house isn’t so much the adolescent years as much as an incessant lifetime.

When I was a kid, school clothes shopping was a time-honored tradition a few weeks before school started. Not the case here. One look at my kids and their clothes, a slight calculation of weather not cooling down for a few more months, and we’re the chumps who wait for the first snowfall to go from flip flops and shorts to boots and pants.

If I buy my kids jeans for school, in August, they are guaranteed to be wearing said jeans as capris—maybe even Bermuda shorts—by October. Shoes are a crapshoot; they are updated when toes poke through the shoe.

Lucy needed a different color dance shoe than she had for her recital. Much to the chagrin of the dance teacher, who I promised I’d get the shoes, I waited until the week before the recital. Sure enough, when I took Lucy to get new shoes, she was sporting a full-size bigger than her current shoe.

Even with all those clothes and sizes in all those stores, with all of the updated fashion and technology, any mom with a kid of any shape or size has a hard time finding clothes that fit.

Factor in the new adventure of tween mood swings (I’ve passed down my bad attitude of clothes shopping) and the shopping experience is doomed to fail. There’s just something “unfun” about relentless reps of fiddling through racks of clothes, finding something both the kids and I like, finding their size, the right color, and then the calisthenics of oddly disrobing in an open-aired, quasi-private dressing room. You do all that, pull it on, and then it’s too short. So you get all your clothes back on, trek back out to the rack of clothes, find the next size, back to the dressing room, off with the clothes, on with the new find, and it’s long enough but too baggy. Tack on the fact that my kids now sport adult sizes. Finding age-appropriate clothes in adult sizes makes me feel like I’m Bear Grylls looking for food in the desert. Except my task is way harder.

So we wait. We wait on our shopping attitudes to change and for the weather to chill. The weather happens first. We’re still waiting on attitudes. A promise of mall food and a cookie can only buy so much time. Be assured, when we finally go, we get to the stores early. I’ve patiently waited until far into the school year to buy the kids’ school clothes. We go in, we try everything on, we find what fits and what the grumpy tweens like, and we buy everything in that size, style, and color.

The kids arrive to school fashionably late with their school clothes that fit…at least for a few weeks.

Read more of Murrell’s stories at momontherocks.com.

Staycations Just For Mom

May 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

All busy moms—stay-at-home and working mothers alike—need to break routine and get away from it all once in a while. There’s no shame in admitting it. Even a single night away from home can do wonders to reinvigorate your spirit and help you gain a better perspective on all you have to be grateful for. In the end, you’re a better parent for having taken a little time for yourself.

But getting away doesn’t have to mean boarding a plane or spending a fortune. There are plenty of great staycation options here in Omaha, ideal for a quick romantic escape with your significant other or a fun girlfriends’ weekend.

If you’re always talking about all the great places and events in Downtown Omaha you’d love to take in (but never do), and you appreciate the finer things in life, then an overnight at Hotel Deco XV (15th & Harney streets) might be just what you’re looking for. With an Art Deco design, 24-hour room service, and valet and concierge services available, you’re sure to feel like a special guest at this AAA Four-Diamond boutique hotel. All of its 89 elegant rooms and suites are furnished with plush beds and luxurious linens, and each is decorated a bit differently, making every stay unique.

Hotel Deco’s location downtown makes it a convenient spot to call “home” if you wish to take in a musical or theatre performance at the Holland Performing Arts Center or Orpheum Theater, an art exhibit at KANEKO or the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, or a riverfront walk or stroll over the Pedestrian Bridge. You’re also just steps away from the historic Old Market District, which houses several of Omaha’s best restaurants, dozens of pubs and wine lounges with live entertainment, eclectic gift and antique stores, clothing and jewelry stores, and even several yoga studios, salons, and day spas.

If you’re a lover of old homes and prefer the charm of a bed and breakfast, then a stay at the Cornerstone Mansion in Midtown might be your perfect destination. Just north of Dodge off 39th Street in Omaha’s Gold Coast neighborhood, the 10,200-sq-ft home built in 1894 is on the National Register of Historic Places. The home features seven guest rooms, each with a private bath and décor true to the period. Some rooms also have a fireplace, sun porch, desk, oversized claw-foot tub, and views of neighboring Joslyn Castle and its beautifully landscaped six-acre estate. Guests are encouraged to peruse the books in the library, play a tune on the grand piano, enjoy a chat in the parlor, or relax in one of the garden gazebos. A continental breakfast is also served on weekdays, and a full gourmet breakfast in the formal dining room on weekends.

While many guests find so much to take in at the mansion that they don’t leave, others that wish to venture out have many options nearby. Joslyn Art Museum is just a five-minute drive away, and Midtown Crossing, with its casual and fine dining, movie theater, park, cocktail lounges, and retail shopping, is just a few blocks’ walk down Dodge. Cornerstone is also a 10-minute drive from the Omaha Community Playhouse, TD Ameritrade Park, CenturyLink Center, and all the venues in Downtown Omaha, so the opportunities are almost limitless!

If for you, a getaway is simply code for a weekend shopping spree, then a stay in West Omaha may be more your style. The Hilton Garden Inn (near 180th just south of Dodge) is conveniently located next to Village Pointe Shopping Center, which offers a plethora of shopping for mom—accessories and apparel, home décor, jewelry, and lotions and potions, as well as a hair salon, nail salon, gourmet ice cream and chocolate shops, and several great sit-down restaurants featuring delicious appetizer and drink menus. The center also features a 16-screen state-of-the-art movie theater, the Funny Bone Comedy Club, and hosts a Saturday morning farmers market and free Saturday night concert series in the summer.

Back at the Garden Inn after a day of shopping, you can enjoy a dip in the hotel’s heated pool or soak in the whirlpool (some suites even have whirlpool tubs in-room!), then retire to a white, duvet-covered bed—with no risk of a child joining you at 3am—and wake refreshed the next morning, ready to hit the fitness center for an uninterrupted workout, grab a bite at a nearby café, and venture out to the stores for more retail therapy.

Book your staycation today. You know what they say…when Mom’s happy, everybody’s happy!

Retail Centers

Photography by Malone & Co.

For some of the Omaha area’s newest and most cutting-edge retail developments, 2012 was a successful year during a time when the national economic climate was still uncertain, and 2013 is so far looking good, say representatives.

“Both shopping centers had solid sales performances overall for 2012 and the 2012 holiday season, and of course, some retailers reported considerable sales increases compared to last year,” says Kim Jones, marketing director for both Shadow Lake Towne Center, located at 72nd Street and Highway 370 in Papillion, and Village Pointe, located at 168th Street and West Dodge Road in Omaha. The two developments are managed and leased by RED Development, based in Phoenix, Ariz.

“Both centers welcomed new tenants in 2012. And we will be making announcements for both properties soon. There’s a great interest in both shopping centers and that just means that retail is certainly coming back after we’ve had some leaner years during the recession.”

“If we look at year-over-year sales development-wide, we saw retail sales up 12 percent. I think our retailers will tell you, they’re happy and cautiously optimistic about the future, given the trend lines,” says Molly Skold, marketing director for Midtown Crossing in the Turner Park area near 33rd and Farnam streets. “Our anchor tenants are also doing well. Wohlner’s (Grocery and Deli) was up 31 percent in March, year-over-year, and Element, Marcus, and Prairie Life have all seen double-digit growth.

“Our condo sales are doing extremely well also. From January to April 2013, we have had 18 new contracts; that’s a 63 percent increase, year-over-year, from 2012.”

Regarding plans for 2013, Skold adds: “We currently have two letters of intent from potential retail tenants. Tenants looking at our development are service-type tenants and specialty stores. And we have an olive oil concept store, Chef Squared, opening in June.”

The 2012 retail year wasn’t without its challenges. One retail sector that has struggled somewhat is apparel, Skold reports, and its performance has slightly modified the outlook for Midtown Crossing’s development.

“The apparel industry nationwide has performed lower than expectations. In 2012, we actually saw one of our apparel stores close its doors, a national chain,” she says. “The apparel industry is opening fewer and fewer stores nationwide. We would have thought that, at this point, we’d have more boutiques or apparel stores.”

“Having community ties is very important to us because we want to make sure that our community knows that we’re invested and that we want to serve them beyond just providing great retail.” – Kim Jones, marketing director with Shadow Lake Towne Center and Village Pointe

However, the apparel sector may be gaining some steam in 2013, Skold says. “Currently, we have five apparel retailers interested in specific spaces—doing drawings, looking at plans, expansions, etc. We are encouraged by the activity.”

Another ongoing concern in the retail industry is that online shopping, which continues to grow, may funnel away sales from its tangible counterpart—shopping centers and freestanding stores. Jones says, however, that there is plenty of room for both channels. “While online sales are certainly not going away, you can continue to see lots of brick-and-mortar and online retailing in concert together, so it’s really just giving the shopper more of an advantage,” she says.

Both Skold and Jones say some of the success of their respective developments lies in how they are structured to reach beyond merely retail services to support a lifestyle and serve as neighborhoods in and of themselves.

“The lifestyle center is currently predominant, but you’ll see it evolve in what kind of tenants it brings in. In some cases, it will hybridize. For example, Shadow Lake is a hybrid with the power center, which is on the perimeter with the big boxes, while the lifestyle center is on the main street,” Jones explains. “So together they offer a different kind of shopping center for Papillion and the community beyond.”

Skold says Midtown Crossing’s growth and development centered around four anchors, with restaurants and retailers developing out next, and service providers coming onboard more recently to round out the development as it passes 90 percent occupancy.

“Those last 10 percent of types of retailers we’ll be looking for are those service-type of stores that really will be providing services and products to our guests and visitors and residents alike,” Skold says, adding that 2012 events and activities, including the new holiday celebration Miracle on Farnam and the summer Architects of Air exhibit, add to Midtown Crossing’s ambiance and image. “I think we have moved from development to a neighborhood,” she says. “I think we have met our goal of Midtown becoming a destination rather than a pass-through.”

Midtown Crossing will also open The Pavilion at Turner Park, which will provide a permanent stage and infrastructure to the center, ideal to host many entertainment and shopping events on the grounds and predicted to draw many new shoppers. “The Pavilion is a stunning addition to Omaha’s Turner Park,” Skold says. “Omahans are in for truly amazing treat!” The structure is scheduled to be complete by the first Jazz on the Green concert July 11th.

Creating community spirit is also an important part of Village Pointe’s and Shadow Lake Towne Center’s identities, Jones says.

“Having community ties is very important to us because we want to make sure that our community knows that we’re invested and that we want to serve them beyond just providing great retail,” Jones explains. “We want to be a place where they come even if they’re not going to shop. It may be to enjoy one of the concerts during one of our concert series or an event that’s going on like a charity walk or something of that nature, or various attractions we have throughout the year. So while they’re retail centers, we also like to consider them community centers.”