The owner of one of the oldest Bettendorf businesses says he’s seeing a lot of his hopes coming true.
Don Keller has a front row seat to downtown’s growth explosion. The store his parents founded, K & K Hardware, more than 80 years ago serves as a vital anchor to the area’s burgeoning home improvement retail sector.
“Things are coming together for the downtown,” Keller said. “Make it a better place to be, a place people want to move their businesses or offices to. It’s going to be a place where things are going on.”
Ryan Jantzi, executive director for the Downtown Bettendorf Organization, said downtown is shaping up as a one stop shopping destination.
“We’ve got kitchen and bath, interior decorating, stereo, home improvement, fireplaces, pools and spas – the list goes on,” Jantzi said. “The only thing we’re missing is carpet and flooring. That being said, we’re in a good spot right now.”
Moving downtown was one of the best decisions business owner Debbie Hereau said she has made. “The bottom line is it worked out great for us,” said Hereau, who opened Concept Bath 27 years ago and operated from Cumberland Square before moving to its current location at 2203 Grant St. “We’re so pleased to be in downtown Bettendorf.”
A bathroom and kitchen remodeling store, Concept Bath features a showroom and has professional designers and installers on staff. Hereau said the City of Bettendorf has been easy to work with and supports small businesses.
“They want us to succeed,” she said. “They want people to visit downtown. With the bridge, new activity in the area, new parks and restaurants and housing, we’re just excited to be down here.”
The downtown consists of at least a dozen family-owned stores that cater to anyone looking to make home improvements. Several of those are located at the River’s Edge Plaza on State Street.
Fireplaces Plus owner Keith Beyhl said his business was one of the first to move into the strip mall 16 years ago. “It works when you have complementary businesses with like customers rather than a mass merchant that has everything but knows nothing,” he said.
He helped encourage a developer to build the strip mall and then relocated his fireplace, barbeque and patio retail store of 32 years from Davenport. “It’s convenient to come to a place like this,” he said of the strip mall. “And you can speak to people who are specialists in their trades.”
A few doors down from Fireplaces Plus, the interior design studio Within includes a showroom and workroom where employees can work on draperies and light upholstery.
“It definitely helps the cross-pollination of clientele,” said Kimberly Fraikes, an interior designer. “If they’re at Fireplaces Plus and they need curtains, they come down here. It works well. It makes it kind of a close little circle for your home improvement needs.”
The two-and-a-half-year-old business is actually the combination of two businesses, including the former State Street Interiors, which was located in downtown Bettendorf west of the Interstate 74 bridge.
“The owner lives in Bettendorf and has always wanted the business to be in Bettendorf,” Fraikes said.
Also located at River’s Edge, Comfort Concepts helps customers organize their homes and office spaces.
“When you turn on the TV, that’s what it’s all about, home improvement,” Ryan Clark, who owns Comfort Concepts with his wife Amy, said. “We help people get better organized.”
He said the past year and a half has been “extremely busy” for his business. “People were stuck at home,” Clark said. “They finally got around to organizing or improving their homes. And since they’re home more, they’re finding better uses for their space.”
Keeping it QC and shopping locally benefits not just the customer but also the small business owner. “They’re our neighbors and friends,” Jantzi said, adding one of the aims of the Downtown Bettendorf Organization is to profile individual local businesses on social media. “They live in the community. You spend money with them, in turn, it helps grow our community.”