In the heart of Tekamah, Nebraska, the new Tekamah Minimall (Tekamah Mini Mall, 435 S 13th St, Tekamah, NE 68061) is paving the way for a fresh wave of economic vitality. The once-four-retail-store building, now transformed into an entrepreneurial hotspot, is the brainchild of local business enthusiast, Chris Bruce.
Bruce, an avid camper, was inspired by the unique character of small-town shops she encountered on her trips. “I enjoy visiting with all the customers, and learning what brought them to Tekamah. I enjoy buying and selling,” she shared, underlining the passion that sparked the creation of the Minimall.
Her vision for the Tekamah Minimall was clear from the outset: “To bring something different to Tekamah for people to be able to purchase gifts… To have new, used, vintage, antiques, and crafts all in one building.”
But bringing this vision to life was no easy task. The original building, which housed four different retail stores, posed significant structural challenges. Bruce explained, “The building was 4 different retail stores so the challenge was making all the floors one level and total gut and rewire and plumbing.” Despite these obstacles, Bruce remained undeterred in her quest to convert the space into a distinctive shopping hub.
To fund this ambitious project, Bruce relied on local resources. “I talked closely with a chamber member and another business lady in town. Local bank did the financing,” she stated. She also secured a substantial grant from the Burt County Economic Development Corp.’s commercial renovation program, marking another significant milestone in the project’s journey.
The Minimall’s operation is as unique as its conception. Vendors are given the liberty to style their booths with a wide array of products. Bruce explained, “Each vendor has their own spot they can put anything in their booth they would want.” This flexibility allows the Minimall to cater to a wide range of interests and preferences, making it a dynamic and inclusive commercial space.
The Tekamah Minimall goes beyond providing a platform for local businesses. It plays a pivotal role in reinvigorating Tekamah’s economy. Bruce emphasized, “It should help keep money in our small town and bring people in from the city.”
The Minimall’s impact was immediate, garnering widespread support from the local community. “We have had great support from the community,” Bruce said. The success of the project also attests to the support from the city council, the Tekamah Chamber of Commerce, and local business people, whom Bruce lauds for their contributions to the venture.
Bruce’s vision for the future of the Tekamah Minimall is expansive: “We hope to be able to double the size of the store and build on the north side of the building in 5 years. We then will offer a lot larger booths for people with large furniture.” This plan signals her ongoing commitment to Tekamah’s entrepreneurial scene and its ongoing growth.
Through Chris Bruce’s unyielding determination and her community’s unwavering support, Tekamah Minimall stands as an emblem of small-town revival and a beacon of hope for other aspiring entrepreneurs. With its compelling narrative, the Minimall is a testament to the power of local businesses in shaping and transforming the economic landscape of small towns.