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Gracie & Me opens its doors in downtown Hastings

Just about a month ago, Deana Symons was working for the Union Pacific Railroad. Today, she's running a new storefront in downtown Hastings. Gracie & Me opened at 116 E. Second St. in the beginning of November.

Symons decided to leave her railroad job in order to spend more time with 9-year-old her daughter, Gracie, for whom the store is named. It was a good job with good pay, she said, but it demanded huge amounts of time. She would be away long hours and weekends, and some days she wouldn't even get to see her daughter. Instead, Gracie spent her time with a nanny.

"It just got really hard," Symons said.

Her boyfriend, now fiancée, suggested she start looking for something she could do differently to allow her to spend more time with her daughter.

The road to Gracie & Me's opening began earlier this year.

"I made a promise to Grace that this year we would take a vacation together," Symons said.

They went to Disney World, where they found a kiosk selling skirts made of repurposed saris. The skirts were double layered and could be wrapped and worn in several different ways. Symons and her daughter bought some and fell in love with them.

When they returned home, they did some research on the skirts, bought a few more for themselves, then got an idea: what if they bought a whole bunch, sold them at a flea market and got to spend the weekends together?

It started out with 100 skirts that went on sale inside 2nd St. Market in downtown Hastings. They were selling well, so Symons started thinking of opening her own store. She started renovating the space at 116 E. Second St. in the beginning of October and had a soft opening Nov. 1, just about six months after the idea started growing.

"It's been a little whirlwind," Symons said.

Skirts aren't the only thing to be found at Gracie & Me. Symons is working with other vendors as well, who provide all sorts of eclectic, mid-century, retro, vintage and antique furniture and collectibles. Symons and another vendor also make steampunk jewelry - jewelry that features mechanical or clockwork style design.

One of Symons' main concerns is keeping her prices reasonable, so people who come in and fall in love with something can actually afford to take it home, she said.

Gracie & Me will work with people looking to consign their items, and Symons said she will even consider buying certain things from people simply looking to sell their unique vintage items.

Gracie & Me is open seven days a week. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. A grand opening is planned for the weekend of Nov. 16.

The phone number is 651-437-3004.