For that special gift

Treasured Times owner Rachel Deutz reflects on more than 10 years of retail in downtown Marshall. Her gift items cover a wide variety of occasions, which makes her store one for all seasons.

Photo by Jim Muchlinski Rachel Deutz has more than a decade of success at Treasured Times on West Street in downtown Marshall. She specializes in gifts and supplies for any special occasion.

MARSHALL — Rachel Deutz believes in taking things one day at a time and one customer at a time.

She’s operated Treasured Times in downtown Marshall for more than 10 years. Her long range business venture started in 2001 when her mother, Gene (Zick) Gilb, was willing to go back to having a religious bookstore like the one she’d previously had in Lake Benton.

Along with giving Gene a chance to operate a retail business again, it provided Rachel with an interesting people-oriented job and a potential long range opportunity for self-employment.

“I was looking at job options, and I asked her if she might want to have a bookstore again,” Deutz said. “It was a good way for me to learn what’s needed to run a business.”

She took over the business in 2007 and expanded into gift items with the name Lighthouse Books and Treasures. Part of her plan was to keep down the cost of shop space by sharing it with Danielle Berg of Westbrook, who operated a business that specialized in scrapbooking.

Six months later Berg asked her if she’d be interested in buying the scrapbook enterprise and combining the two ideas into one more diversified business.

“I was definitely not a scrapper, but the more I thought about what it might be like to work with the merchandise and the customers, the more I thought it could work,” Deutz said. “People who want to make scrapbooks also often want gifts and keepsakes.”

She added that she’s always been a “dreamer,” a quality that can lend itself both to making the most of a business concept and to envisioning what kind of inventory customers want when they’re looking for a thoughtful, imaginative gift for a relative or close friend.

Her product line encompasses a variety of special occasions. As a result, she’s not dependent on short peak times of the year in a way that tends to limit enterprises such as a Christmas store or sales of high school and college class rings.

“I have a much longer season,” she said. “It picks up toward the end of the winter and keeps going for most of the summer, almost until it starts getting close to the holiday season. One of my goals has always been to carry items that have an inspiring message. They should encourage people to reach important goals in life.”

She added that faith-based items continue to play an important role in Treasured Times, especially on holidays like Christmas and Easter. Occasions such as confirmation, first communion and baptism are also popular with customers.

Her most recent added feature relates to weddings. It includes the opportunity to rent wedding items such as an archway, gates and decorating items like centerpieces.

She said one of the keys to long-term success has been looking for items that appeal to different age groups rather than trendy choices that might not resonate with parents, grandparents or other adult relatives. Most customers, both young and old, see value in finding keepsakes even though technology has started to play more of a role in daily lives.

“I have customers tell me that they have Kindles but still like books they can hold,” Deutz said. “The same thing happened with music because they still enjoy the standard CDs.”

She said a personal approach to business is valued by many of her customers, even when they also have the option of shopping online.

“My mother and I always meant for the business to be personal and face-to-face,” she said. “It’s rewarding whenever people find something they really like. Hopefully both the merchandise and the service help to put them in a positive frame of mind.”

Shawnee Dechant, who lives in Marshall and works in the downtown business district, said she sees Treasured Times as one of the best possibilities for appealing gifts and decorations.

“I stop regularly because there’s something for almost any occasion,” Dechant said. “I also appreciate the personal service. There’s always a good chance that Rachel will have the kind of thing I’m looking for.”

Customers who stopped at Treasured Times last Friday said they make it a point to check the store when looking around for a special gift.

Melissa Swanson of Lynd shops at Treasured Times regularly throughout the year for many different kinds of keepsakes.

“I’m shopping for a baptism, but sometimes I’ve bought an item that’s a ‘just because’ gift,” Swanson said. “It’s a unique place. There are always many good choices.”