Small Town Famous has expanded from Hastings to downtown Grand Island.
The store, which offers authentic clothing and products made in Nebraska, opened at 301 W. Third St. On April 15th.
Owner Jack Cranson calls Small Town Famous a “modern general store.”
A native of Grand Island, Cranson started his business in Omaha before launching a store at 733 Second St. in Hastings.
“I went to law school, graduated and passed the bar, but I couldn’t find a job, 12 years ago, so I started selling T-shirts and headbands at local leagues,” she said. “It kind of evolved from there.”
What started with screen printing has blossomed into large-scale retailing.
“There were a lot of things in Hastings that they didn’t have that we were just starting to fill in,” Cranson said. “We have Christian books, because the Christian library was closed across the street. We have a (from) Lincoln coffee mill. Candles are from Juanita. I have to walk around to see all our different people.”
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It’s also a family affair.
“My mom makes a lot of home décor products, and my sister makes a lot of T-shirts,” Cranson said.
With the Grand Island, Small Town Famous brings several storefront shows to Railside, along with “Make Your Own T-Shirt Day” events.
Jennifer Hansen runs Grand Island.
Hansen’s parents owned the building and his earlier work, Milestone Gallery Antiques.
“She just bought the building from her parents, so she lives there and runs the store for us,” Cranson explained.
Cranson said the renovation of the place was particularly fun.
“My dad and I refinished and painted all the floors, and just tried to make it look original,” she said. “We applied brick wallpaper to give it the feel of the old building.”
The space itself contributes to the uniqueness of the Grand Island site.
“When you walk in, it doesn’t necessarily feel like the same store,” Cranson said. “There are some of the same products. We have high ceilings here. But it is a different layout. It is definitely more comfortable.”
Small Town Famous joins other newcomers in downtown Grand Island, including opening Big Red Treats this week right across the street.
“I definitely think Railsside on Grand Island is the place of an event that seems to be where it is now,” she said. “We’re definitely excited to be a part of that.”
She said the expansion was exciting, but also that “there is a lot to manage.”
“It’s exciting to grow, and we have really good staff here helping us, so I don’t feel a lot of stress,” she said.
The store’s point of pride is the “above average” wages for its employees.
“We’re paying our people today $17 to $21 an hour, which isn’t unheard of for retail, especially for small businesses, so we get a lot of really good help, and that has helped make it easier to get in and get employees,” she said.
Further expansion of the Hastings project is possible.
“We’ll see how Grand Island goes first,” Cranson said. “I think downtown all over Nebraska there is a revitalization process going on. People want to be downtown. They want to see them doing well. Empty buildings are starting to fill up.”
She added, “If Grand Island does well, we’ll definitely be interested in franchising and getting into more downtown small towns across Nebraska.”
For more information, visit shopstf.com.