TERRE HAUTE —
As Kathy Knapke left The Harmonious Hedgehog on Friday, she had a bag full of items she had purchased — baby gifts, Easter items, jewelry and cookbooks.
Although she lives in Rockville, she’s made special trips to the gift store, located at 1412 E. Davis Drive. “It’s a unique shopping experience. It’s a girlfriends’ day out kind of a place,” she said.
Friday’s visit was a sentimental one for Knapke. After 12 1⁄2 years in business, owner Linda Morris has decided to close — and her many loyal customers, including Knapke, are heartbroken.
Today is the last day for The Harmonious Hedgehog, which will be open from noon to 4 p.m. And then, the doors will shut for good.
“I’m going to miss them terribly,” Knapke said.
On Friday, many customers visited the gift shop, some to say good-bye, others to look for bargains.
“We’re retiring. It’s just time,” said Morris, taking a break from the nonstop sales and activity. She turned 60 this year.
“It’s one of those things. You just know when it’s time to be done. We wanted to go out while we were on top and doing well,” she said.
Also, she noted, prices of items have gone up and “competition with Internet is very difficult.”
Closing The Harmonious Hedgehog is “bittersweet. I’ll miss the people, the customers. But I think it’s time to do something else,” Morris said.
Some of her customers aren’t taking the news very well. “We’ve had people come in and they’re bawling,” she said. While she appreciates the loyalty, “It’s like I’m killing somebody … It’s stuff. It can be acquired other places.”
The shop has featured an eclectic choice of high quality items, including Hadley pottery, costume jewelry, specialty chocolates, German pewter, Russian nesting dolls, Polish pottery — and much more.
Most of the items came from the United States, she said. “We tried hard to keep things from the U.S.,” she said. The gift shop also has sold many items made in Indiana and some items made in Terre Haute.
The gift shop included some items made in China, for those on a more limited budget who still wanted to buy something.
One of the keys to her success, she said, was “customer service.” She knew her customers and got their feedback on the kinds of items they wanted.
Also, in purchasing items for her shop, “You have to research everything very carefully” and shop pragmatically — calculator in hand and with a budget in mind, she said.
She also focused on items “you don’t see everywhere,” she said.
Morris also made a point to give back to the community — she has donated many gift baskets each year for charitable organizations.
Looking to the future, Morris will help out with her husband’s trucking company. Her husband is Mike Morris, who owns Morris Trucking.
Also, the entire family runs. Daughter Emily Oilar has done one Ironman, and Linda’s husband does duathlons (running and cycling) as well as marathons — he’ll be running the Boston Marathon next month.
A lot of travel is involved, and they like to travel as a family. Other children are Tracie Morris and Michael Morris Jr.
Among the many loyal customers visiting Friday was Marian Husain of Terre haute.
She’s shopped at The Harmonious Hedgehog “for as long as its been open,” she said. “I’m sad about it [closing]. It’s one of the best places in town to buy cards.”
As shoppers made their purchases, they wished Morris well in her future endeavors.
Some left with tears in their eyes.
“Terre Haute is losing something special, that’s for sure,” Knapke said.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Today is the last day for The
Harmonious Hedgehog, which will be open from noon to 4 p.m.