For the love of Christmas: Open the door and experience Memories holiday atmosphere

Billie Blair
Pratt Tribune
Cathy Hergenreder shares a little pre-Christmas spirit with special displays and seasonal items at Memories gift store in Pratt.

Holiday Open House downtown is coming this Sunday, November 21 (1-5 p.m.) in Pratt and Cathy Hergenreder is ready at her gift store, Memories at 110 S Main. The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas are on full display for those who step into Memories Home Décor, Clothing & Gifts.

Hergenreder said she loves Christmas, enjoys decorating her shop for the holiday and wants to help customers find the perfect gift this season. She said she enjoys when customers step into the shop and say “Oh, my goodness” when they see the variety of items available, smell the Christmas smells and hear the Christmas music.

The first signs of Christmas are found in this shop by looking in the front window. There’s a Christmas tree, snow globes, ornaments covered in snow, and cardinals. There are lots and lots of cardinals. There are red cardinal ornaments, cardinals painted on ornaments, cardinals on tea towels, pillows and afghans. The red birds against white are quite striking.

Hergenreder loves to create a welcoming atmosphere where people can come in and relax while browsing. She and the five part time helpers, whom she calls her “elves,” all enjoy decorating and designing areas with a specific focus. They began decorating before Halloween in hopes of giving their customers time to shop and get a little ahead of the holiday.

A shopper can find candles and candies, socks and soaps, popcorn and pajamas. One can make Christmas memories with chocolate covered coffee beans and hot chocolate bombs, fresh from the maker. Garden flags and welcome mats with interchangeable inserts are popular items.

Lang Calendars are such a big seller that many regulars know if they wait until December to purchase one, they might not get the exact one they want. Snow birds traveling through Pratt heading to warmer weather for the winter will stop in, specifically to get their calendar for the next year. Hergenreder said the shop usually sells out of this item every year.

Besides the snow birds, Memories has customers come from places like Wichita, Ness City, and Oklahoma.

"The goal is to sell everything and make customers happy when they leave so that they want to come back again and again. Customers coming in here is why I’m still here,” Hergenreder said.

Two new items are the Fancy Panz and a large, lightweight rubber tote. The “panz” will hold a foil pan for cakes or casseroles to take to a family gathering, church diner or tailgating. It can keep the food inside warm or cold and includes a deviled egg tray. Hergenreder said, “One customer bought eight of these panz.” Hergenreder went on to say, “They are a great gift for daughters, daughters-in laws, friends, neighbors.”

The rubber tote comes in a variety of colors and is washable. Hergenreder said, “These could be used to hold yarn for a knitter, taken to the beach or a picnic, or kept in the car between the seats to help keep things organized.” They could also be used by teachers for holding the books and papers they carry back and forth to school.

“Since COVID, people seem to be gravitating toward items for the home, “Hergenreder noticed. Pura is an item appreciated by younger customers. It is a plug-in fragrance device that can be operated from a downloaded phone app. The device contains two small bottles of scents. A person, using the app can program the Pura to start or stop a particular scent at a specific time of day. The intensity of the scent can also be regulated through the app.

Container ships stalled on the west coast are impacting small business owners like Hergenreder in a variety of ways.

“I’ve been on the phone this year more than ever before, keeping track of orders,” she said.

Ordering problems abound. She said a particular candle company has not able to fill her order for larger candles because the glass containers the candles are made in come from overseas. A company she uses for T-shirts is having trouble getting the shirts for their designs. Kansas City Chiefs drinkware, including travel mugs, coffee mugs, drinking glasses, and beer mugs, were ordered early this year. The entire order maybe be filled before Christmas, but even with delays and orders not completely filled, there is plenty to choose from in the store.

Despite having to absorb additional freight charges, container charges, and ocean charges, that accompany supply difficulties, Hergenreder said she is always ready and willing to help her customers.

"I’m always happy to ship items for my customers. I also do some porch deliveries and curbside service. We have always offered free gift wrapping here. Doing this is one way that sets us apart from larger stores. I want to offer good customer service,” she said.

Hergenreder and her mother, Sue Epp, opened the shop in 1986, 35 years ago. Epp died at Christmas in 2015. Hergenreder still feels her mother’s presence in the store, especially as they start decorating for the holidays and, then, when she closes the door on that last day the store is open before Christmas. There will be a special give away to celebrate Memories 35 years.

She and her mother started a notebook of special orders when the store first opened. The notebook continues to be filled with lists of items customers are looking for and are unable to find in the store. There is often quite a list before the Christmas deliveries arrive.

"Pratt has the best Main Street and all the shop owners on Main are glad to be here," Hergenreder said.

Pratt's Holiday Open House is scheduled for November 21, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon. More than 20 stores and businesses are planning to be open for this special event under the direction of the Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce.

The open house is Memories' kickoff for seasonal Sunday shopping (1 p.m.-5 p.m.) through Christmas only. Regular weekday hours are Mon. - Wed. (10 a.m.-6 p.m.) and Sat. (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.). For more information contact Memories Home Décor, Clothing & Gifts (620) 672-3543 or memgifts_86@gmail.com.