The east side of 12th Street between Central Avenue and First Avenue South is rapidly becoming an important shopping destination not only for Fort Dodgers, but for customers from many nearby cities. It has become the home to a four specialty shops Bridal Visions by LD, Studio Fusion, Tillies Quilts and Xessorize!
Rich Seltz, who owns this group of buildings, has turned them into a unified complex called Kirchner Square, a name that honors his family's long ties to the nearby section of Fort Dodge where the new Fareway store was built. (Kirchner was the family name of one of Seltz's great-grandfathers.)
The historic buildings have been restored to an appearance reminiscent of their look in an earlier era with attractive brick facings, large windows and cloth awnings.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Jill Bush, and her reflection, owner of Xessorize! at 25 S. 12th St. in downtown Fort Dodge, models one of the purses for sale in her store.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Cross-themed bracelets are among the accessories available at Xessorize!
In October 2010, Jill Bush opened Xessorize! as one of the first commercial tenants of Kirchner Square. The business has flourished and this October was doubled in size. It now occupies an expansive suite on southeast corner of the complex.
Bush said her store features a selection of products comparable to the offerings in the boutique shops in larger cities.
"I consider this kind of like big-city shopping in a smaller town," she said. "I do a lot of shopping in Omaha and Kansas City and Des Moines. I go around to all the little boutiques and find the things that I like from those places and try to bring it back here."
Bush said many shoppers are now able to find in her shop distinctive items they would previously have had to journey some distance to acquire.
"They can just come and get them here," she said.
The selection at Xessorize! is eclectic. Handbags are featured and the purse options are extensive.
"My things are more of a one-of-a-kind," Bush said. "I usually try to get only one of each purse. ... You go to some of the bigger department stores and they have six or seven of the same things."
She said that reduces the likelihood that one of her customers will encounter someone else in Fort Dodge with the identical purse.
The inventory includes thousands of choices. In addition to purses, featured merchandise includes jewelry, hair accessories, belts, sandals, slippers, watches, greeting cards and painted wine glasses. And there are scarves to suit any taste.
"Scarves are my No. 1 seller right now," Bush said. "I have hundreds of scarves. I have all kinds of things."
The physical expansion of Xessorize! enables the store to carry a larger, more diverse array of products. Bush said she has already added some items to the inventory and has additional enhancement planned for the year ahead. An early addition will be a section devoted to products for little girls.
Bush stressed that she is committed to providing options that are exciting while being reasonably priced. She said her store's similarity to a big city boutique does not include the stellar price tags.
"It's very reasonable, very affordable," Bush said. "I have things from $3. The most expensive is $50. ... You can come in and get a gift easily for $10."
She or one of the four salespeople will also gift wrap the item for the customer - at no additional charge.
Should a customer not be able to decide just what is right for that special someone, Xessorize! offers gift cards with no expiration date.
Xessorize! is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.