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Marengo's hold-out, Home Town Gift

July 09, 2008
A lot of businesses have come and gone in Marengo in the last several years. The downtown area has changed dramatically and several buildings now stand empty, as if waiting for another idea and business venture to come along.

But one store has made it through thick and thin — good times and bad. Home Town Gift and Variety has been there for 20 years and hopes to be there another 20.

Edna Beaver, center, and her daughters, Tammy Broughton, left, and Diane Parr have kept Home Town Gift and Variety a downtown Marengo staple for 20 years. (Photo by Lee Cable)
Edna Beaver and her two daughters, Tammy Broughton and Diane Parr, own and operate the business, and many people in the area have come to rely on the store. Now, with gas prices making trips to Corydon more and more expensive, Home Town Gift and Variety has begun to take back a lot of the business that some bigger stores snatched away from local businesses through the years.

The name "Home Town Gift and Variety" says it all. The store has one section that is a lot like one of the old dime stores. A walk down some of the aisles reveals a well stocked school supply section, toys, candy (including sugar free), quiltmaking supplies, paper goods, hand/body creams, unique books, ribbon, and all kinds of notions, including needles and thread — probably the only place in Crawford County where they are still available.

The store also sells graduation and specialty gifts, stone angels, afghans, tapestry, craft items, vases, Mylar balloons with helium tanks, all kinds of greeting cards (many marked 50 percent off), inspirational cards, wedding and anniversary gifts, wind chimes, silk and fresh flower arrangements and home decor items.

"Our florist business has really grown," Edna said. "At one time there was four florists in Marengo, and we're the only one left. We deliver flower arrangements to all area funeral homes. We deliver to English, Milltown, New Salisbury, Corydon, Palmyra, Marengo, Paoli and we'll even go as far as New Albany. We do everything we can to accommodate funeral homes and churches. We'll also deliver to the local schools."

The store also makes floral arrangements for casket sprays and floral saddles for the top of grave stones.

"We make a lot of those," Edna said. "In the last few years, they have really become popular. We have a lot of repeat customers and, sometimes, a person will call us and say, 'You know what I want,' and we usually do. We also sell a lot of roses on Valentine's Day and for anniversaries, graduations, birthdays and senior nights."

The store also has an abundance of Boyds Bears, which they tie to bouquets. They have a huge selection of candles of all kinds including Candleberrys, Yankee, Virginia Wood Wicks (that crackle like a fire) and electric plug-in types. There is also a large selection of jams and soup mixes, many of which are made by disabled people.

Diane does most of the floral arrangements and Tammy takes care of the store decorations and product placement. And both are known for their gift-wrapping skills, which is free to all customers.

Tammy is married to Kevin Broughton and has two sons — Christopher, who attends Indiana University Southeast, and Chase, who just finished the eighth grade. Diane is married to Steven Parr and has two daughters — Tara, who is a junior at the University of Southern Indiana, and Kayla, who is a senior at Crawford County High School.

"In the last 20 years, 31 businesses have closed in downtown Marengo," Edna said. "But we're still here. We work at it. We try to have what our customers want, even though that changes some from year to year. Customers are your business — and we know, and care about them."

Home Town Gift and Variety is located at 306 S. Bradley St. in downtown Marengo. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The store can be reached at 365-2651.

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