COLUMBIA CITY — Downtown Columbia City is the place to be this holiday shopping season. Among the fashionable places to buy gifts is Rubies and Whimsy, a clothing and jewelry boutique on Main Street.
Rubies and Whimsy owner Kim Jones opened her store March 2016 and has seen her customer base continue to grow as more shops open downtown.
Jones got her start making hand-stamped jewelry that she sold on Etsy. As her online sales grew, an opportunity presented itself when Gary and Heather Parrett, owner of the building on Main Street, offered to lease the extra storefront to Jones. The Parretts own the Downtown on the Square restaurant next door.
“They (Parretts) were super nice in letting us lease this space while they’re not using it,” Jones said.
Jones added clothing to her repertoire to expand options in Columbia City.
“I felt like Columbia City was lacking options in clothing, gifts and jewelry,” Jones said.
While shoppers used to be interested in the deals offered by bigger box stores, there is a trend toward boutiques.
“We’re super unique,” Jones said. “You won’t find these items in most other stores, and that’s what people are after. They don’t want to see the same thing every day, they want to stand out and be different.”
Rubies and Whimsy recently added a children’s section, offering clothing for newborns through size 15-16. It also offers Indiana-made bath bombs, dryer balls, soaps and sugar scrubs; bracelets made by Haitian women, and some home decor items, along with its unique clothing and hand-stamped jewelry.
Jones began making jewelry almost seven years ago in the basement of her house.
“I’ve always been creative — I need to have something to do or tinker with,” Jones said. “When I heard about Esty, I started making jewelry with Scrabble tiles — that was the beginning of my jewelry making.”
Jones saw hand-stamped letters on Etsy, and her first piece was a necklace for her mother, Rosie Coyle, in memory of her brother, Chad, who passed away at a young age.
“It was that piece that started it all,” Jones said. “She wears it all the time.”
Jones manages the business, but it’s not uncommon to see her husband and her mother helping customers.
Coyle finds time to work at the shop despite being the clerk-treasurer for Columbia City for many years.
“She is a busy lady but she loves helping out here, it’s an outlet for her,” Jones said.
Rubies and Whimsy sees regular customers from Whitley County, as well as surrounding areas such as Huntington, Fort Wayne and Warsaw. When people visit from out of town, Jones loves the economic value it gives to all downtown businesses, not just her own.
“There are so many shops now. People can park their cars, get some coffee, go shopping, visit the Vintage Marketplace and eat dinner,” Jones said.
Downtown businesses have received a shot in the arm with the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center relocating downtown. The Chamber has hosted several events that encourage people to go downtown, such as the Lil Pumpkins on Parade on Halloween.
“There were moms who came in here with their children who had never been here before,” Jones said. “That wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the Chamber. Things like that really help the businesses.”
Shoppers can expect to see several specials leading up to Christmas. For Small Business Saturday, Rubies and Whimsy offered free leggings and discounts on jewelry.