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Thriving Through Change: The Small Business Chronicles of Garnett, Kansas

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Nestled in the heart of Garnett, Kansas, two small businesses—Monroe 816 and The Kirk House—are exemplars of adaptability and community spirit. Both have undergone significant transformations over the years, embracing change not only to survive but to thrive. The two businesses began collaborating during the pandemic to create new offerings and support one another.

Monroe 816: A Testament to Evolution
Owned by Val Katzer Foltz, Monroe 816 began as a quaint boutique specializing in handcrafted decor and furniture. Initially, the focus was on locally crafted items, which, while unique, proved labor-intensive with slim profit margins. Recognizing the need for a pivot, Val expanded the product line to include a broader array of home furnishings that align with the store’s ethos yet cater to broader tastes and budgets.

Today, Monroe 816 is a treasure trove of home decor, furniture and gifts, among other offerings. The shift wasn’t just in the products; how Val managed inventory and interacted with customers evolved too. During the lockdowns, Monroe 816 leveraged social media to maintain customer engagement through initiatives such as goodwill candle giveaways and Monroe Mornings Coffee Talk. These virtual events not only kept the business afloat but significantly boosted sales.

The Kirk House: Blending History with Modern Comfort
Eileen Burns, the proprietor of The Kirk House, has steered the historic property through a decade of change since its acquisition in 2007. Initially restored to reflect its 1913 origins, The Kirk House served as a multi-purpose venue that embraced its historic charm. However, the advent of Airbnb and VRBO led to a strategic rethinking.

Recent upgrades have included a complete plumbing overhaul, the addition of three new suites to accommodate more guests, and a refresh in decor to strike a perfect balance between traditional elegance and modern comfort. These changes have not only increased the house’s capacity but have enhanced the overall guest experience, ensuring that comfort is not sacrificed for the sake of authenticity.

Learning and Growing Together
Both Monroe 816 and The Kirk House have faced their share of trials. Experimenting with different marketing strategies and adapting to the digital world were significant challenges. The pandemic era underscored the importance of flexibility and innovation in business strategy. Val and Eileen learned that diversifying marketing efforts and focusing on extraordinary customer experiences could yield better results than relying solely on traditional or digital methods.

Future Outlook
Looking forward, both businesses emphasize the importance of staying true to their brand while being open to change. They understand that small business life is replete with peaks and valleys. By maintaining a flexible approach to business, embracing new ideas and focusing on customer satisfaction, Monroe 816 and The Kirk House are not just surviving; they are setting standards in their community.

As Garnett continues to grow, these businesses stand as beacons of resilience and innovation, reminding us all that in the ever-changing landscape of small business, adaptation is not just an option—it’s essential for success.