When Carol Schoenleber made the decision last year to close Lincoln's last remaining Ben Franklin store, it was an emotional decision.
Her parents had opened the first store in Lincoln in the 1950s, and she took ownership of the remaining store in the Meadowlane Shopping Center at 70th and Vine streets when they died in the 1990s.
"It was a decision that was not made lightly, as we were aware of how much our customers appreciated the crafts, scrapbooking, candy and 'the stuff you couldn't find anywhere else,'" said Kelsey Schoenleber, Carol's daughter. "The decision to close the store was made because the timing was right, for the employees and for my family, especially my mom."
But as the months went by and the space remained empty, the Schoenlebers started formulating an idea.
"As we kept noticing that the original Ben Franklin space was empty, we would joke and say, 'Hey, we should do another store in the same old spot,'" Kelsey said. "The more we would joke about it, the more it turned into an actual idea that we were really excited about."
That idea will soon become a reality, as Kelsey, her mom, her dad, Bob, and some former Ben Franklin employees plan to open Franklin's Treasures and Treats.
Kelsey is quick to stress that the store will not be the same as the old Ben Franklin. For one thing, it will be smaller and carry a lot less stuff.
"The hardest part has been deciding what we should carry, knowing that we don't have as much space to work with and that we don't want to be a replica of what we used to be," she said. "People will definitely still see the essence of Ben Franklin when they come in, especially regarding toys, candy, gift items and the decor that we used to carry. But we have so much fun, new stuff coming in that we are so excited to show everyone."
In addition, Kelsey said the space has undergone a big renovation, with new lights, a new ceiling and floor, new paint, new fixtures and a new layout.
"It won't be the exact same thing, but Franklin's hopefully has enough old and enough new to make people happy," she said. "We appreciate our customers so much and we want them to know we have made every decision for Franklin's with them in mind."
Kelsey said they hope to have the store open some time in November, but the date is not yet set. When they do decide on an opening date, it will be announced on the store's Facebook page.