All in the family

Business with the Stobbes is a family affair. This is evidenced by family photos in Vicki?s office and in the way her husband, children and daughterin- law have become involved in the businesses.

One photo on the wall is of the family more than 20 years ago, which was used for a bank advertisement. Wife-and-husband team Vicki and Ken Stobbe own four area specialty gift shops and boutiques, three of which are in Newton.

Besides Kitchen Corner, these are High Street Co., 315 N. High St.; and Main Street Co., 611 N. Main St. The fourth store, Redbird Boutique, 9747 E. 21st North, No. 145, in Wichita, is managed by their daughter, Tina. Vicki Stobbe said Tina, 31, has been involved with the family business for a long time. At age 5, she was helping out at High Street Co. curling ribbon.

?She (later) graduated from Tabor (College) and has worked for us ever since,? Vicki said.

?Tina named Redbird after her grandmother,? Lovella Adrian, who has passed away, Vicki said.

Tina wanted to honor her grandmother, who is Vicki?s mother, because she was close to her. Tina?s grandmother loved redbirds, Vicki said, and one day, when Tina was trying to decide on a name for the store, she looked outside and saw a redbird sitting on a fence. That day was her late grandmother?s birthday. So, she decided to name the store Redbird Boutique. In her office at Redbird, Tina has a chalk drawing of her grandmother.

?Grandma goes to the store with her every day,?Vicki said. Although Vicki majored in music at Tabor, she picked up her business skills from her parents. She said her mother was ?quite the businesswoman,? and her family wouldn?t be where they are today without her parents? knowledge. ?My family was very entrepreneurial.?

In addition to Tina managing the Wichita store, son Shawn Stobbe, 27, and daughter-inlaw Madeline are active workers in Newton: Shawn is manager of Kitchen Corner, and Madeline manages Main Street Co.

?We kind of all have our little areas of expertise,? Vicki said. ?We all kinda have our areas, but we?re all involved in it.?

All family members attend market at different times, so Vicki feels they have different eyes looking for products to buy for the stores. They attend five markets per year.

?We also do shows on the road,? she said. ?We do about nine shows on the road per year.? During shows, the store sets up a booth and sells products. They have visited Oklahoma City?and Tulsa and the Women?s Fair.
Vicki is proud of their staff.

?I have an excellent team working?for us,? she said. ?Otherwise,?even with the whole family, we?couldn?t do this.?
Vicki enjoys what she does for a?living, and works about 60 hours?per week with Ken working about?70.

?I love to buy stuff,? Vicki said,?laughing in her Kitchen Corner?office. ?But my energy comes from?our customers because I just love?to visit with people and get to?know them, and I really feel that?the three kids have that aspect.?
Vicki really appreciates the customers,?saying Harvey County and?the surrounding areas have supported?the Stobbes, and they are?thankful for that. She said they are?blessed they have been able to be?in the community for 27 years.
?Thank you for shopping?locally because the money stays?where it should,? she said.
The first shop they opened was?High Street Co. in January 1986.
The next store they opened was?Main St. Co., followed by Kitchen?Corner and then Redbird two?years ago in September.
Shawn was 6 months old when?Vicki opened High Street Co. A?representative came to her home?on the day Shawn had had his 6-month shots, and he was cranky.
The rep, Jim Root, was selling baskets?and mugs.
?He walked out of the house?and said, ?That lady will never?make it,?? Vicki said.
She and Jim became lifelong?friends and used to laugh about?the incorrect prediction he had.
Jim died of cancer about three?years ago.?Shawn seems to enjoy his job,?calling people on the phone in his?upstairs office on a snowy April
morning.
?I move from store to store?because I do my best to make sure?things run smoothly in the background,??he said.
For him, working with the family?business is fun, new and with?family, ?it?s always entertaining,?that?s for sure,? he said.
Working with family can be a?challenge, Shawn said, because?they all have different opinions on?certain things. He said it?s often a?challenge to find a common?ground, but they always get it?done.
?I?d say for a family working in?multiple stores like this, communication?is just a huge factor,? Vicki?said.

 

Vicki Stobbe?s background
Vicki was born in Hutchinson and raised in Buhler. While attending?Tabor College, she met Ken, and they later moved to Oklahoma.
Ken finished school at Southwestern State University, and they?moved to Enid, Okla., where he did an internship. For 18 years, Ken?was director of the local hospital?s laboratory and left there to help?with the family business.
Vicki said she loves to travel.

VickiStobbeOffice

 

Photos and story by?Wendy Nugent