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Lifestyles Unique Gifts

Something for everyone . . . .

Renee Blosky has one guiding principle when it comes to customers visiting her eclectic store, Lifestyles, in downtown Valparaiso: Kill them with kindness.

In the 31/2 years that Blosky, a former teacher, has owned the business, she has created a unique retail experience.

“When I took over here, I was warned that dealing with the public was a bad experience, but I’ve found that to be just the opposite,” says Blosky. “I’ve made a lot of friends doing this.”

Lifestyles, which sprawls over 10,000 square feet in a 162-yearold brick building, is a browser’s dream. There are extensive collections of home décor and kitchen items, a remarkable gallery of artwork (all of it for sale), educational toys, jewelry and scents.

“There’s something here for everyone,” says Blosky. “We have items priced from 95 cents to $1,000.

“A lot of my customers come in to get one thing, and they wind up staying here for an hour. It’s such an interesting place.”

Blosky had taught second grade for 10 years and middle school for five years when she decided it was time to try something different. What she found was Lifestyles. The former owner had decided it was time to retire after 27 years, creating an opportunity for Blosky.

“She took me under her wing. She really showed me how the business works,” says Blosky. “She didn’t have to do that, but she did and I really appreciate it.”

Lifestyles had built a reputation as one of the places to go for people decorating their homes. What Blosky did was take an already successful formula and build on it.

“You have to listen to people. They will tell you what they want. Customers are very vocal, and I’m always writing down what they say.”

When Blosky is looking for items to stock her shelves, she buys a lot of what she likes, but admits there is no formula for figuring out what will sell and what won’t.

“There simply is no way of knowing. You have to do different things, though, to keep it fresh. I like to have local stuff in here, because I think that’s what helps keep us unique,” says Blosky.

In an era when locally owned downtown retailers are fighting competition from big-box retailers, Blosky says her success depends on customer service. For instance, parents with small children can shop alone while the children color and play games
in the toy department – under the eye of adult supervision. “We tell them that if they’re good, they can get Jelly Bellies when they leave,” says Blosky.

“Service is the number one thing we provide,” she says. “We wrap gifts for free, for instance. And we’ll do one-on-one shopping for you. Service like that is how you build loyalty.”

Lifestyles is at:

122 E. Lincolnway
Valparaiso, IN 46383

Hours are

Monday through Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit www.valpolifestyles.com