Jaime Reitz ran a successful medical coding business for more than two decades. She had contractors working for her all over the country and was able to support her family while her husband went back to school to train for a new career.
But after the Affordable Care Act went into effect a few years ago, she found herself working twice as hard for less money. The stress and 16- to -18-hour days took a big toll on her health.
So she and her husband decided to sell the business, which left her looking for something to do.
She turned to restoring furniture, first as a hobby for herself and then as a business run out of her home.
Eventually, the business got too big. Acquaintances and even perfect strangers were dropping off furniture at her home.
"I came home one day and the driveway was full of furniture," Reitz said.
That's when she, with some gentle nudging from her husband, decided it was time for a commercial space.
She found a small space in a building at 2719 N. 48th St., essentially on the corner of 48th and St. Paul Avenue, in University Place and opened House of Reitz in November.
The business was an immediate success.
"In the first week we sold everything in the store," Reitz said.
It quickly became apparent that the space wasn't going to be sufficient for the volume of business. Luckily for Reitz, there was another, larger space open in the building. So she moved the business there after one month.
Now she has space not only to display items for sale, but also an area where she can work on restoring furniture items. She also rents out part of the space to people who want to learn how to restore furniture themselves.
Most of what Reitz sells is old. Some of it is antique old. Some of it is retro old. She has painstakingly restored many of the pieces herself.
She's bought very little of her inventory. Most of it is donated.
"It's just funny the way pieces kind of find us," Reitz said.
The pieces may find her because people know, in her words, "that we'll take anything."
While Reitz is in business to make money, she also has worked hard to make her business a community gathering place.
She said people are welcome to come in, hang out and use her wifi. She lets book clubs and neighborhood groups congregate in the space free of charge.
Reitz knows it creates a sense of goodwill that will eventually lead to purchases.
She said many of her customers are into vintage merchandise, but some make a purchase simply because an item reminds them of a cherished moment.
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"A lot of the stuff we have in here really connects people with their past," she said.
Connecting with the past is also the focus of the business that took over Reitz's former space in the building.
Daggers & Dames, which sells vintage lingerie and other women's intimate wear, opened in March.
Owner Letia Macke has had an online store since 2017 but decided to give brick-and-mortar retail a try.
"I wanted to get a storefront just because there wasn't anything like what I have in Lincoln," Macke said.
What she has is a collection of corsets, nightgowns, bras and other items from the late 1800s up to the 1960s, with a big focus on pieces from the 1920s-1940s.
She buys most of her items from estate and garage sales, but for more intimate items such as bras and panties, she looks for never-used items from manufacturers' dead stock.
Macke's grandmother worked as a buyer for Ben Simon's department store, and she said she's always had an interest in vintage clothing.
But because there is so much vintage merchandise for sale, she wanted to stand out, and lingerie seemed like a good way to do that.
Vintage lingerie pieces are "just so beautifully done," she said.
Macke said she loves her retail spot but wants to generate more traffic.
After she's more settled in, she said she wants to do bridal events and private parties. She also wants to become a vendor at car and motorcycle shows.
One thing that might generate more traffic is the arrival of a new neighbor.
Ramo's Pizza and Busters BBQ has announced plans to move into a vacant restaurant space in the building sometime in May.
Macke is excited, knowing the popular restaurant, which has been in south Lincoln for many years, will attract more people to the area.
The new businesses, which include Beauty Girl Women's Clothing & Accessories, a block to the north, join existing businesses in the area that include Berry Law Firm, Salon 27 Eleven, Jerusalen Bakery, Mo Java Coffee and Heart of Gold Jewelers.
Toni Yost, who co-owns Heart of Gold with her dad, Charles, said the shop has been there for almost 10 years.
Yost, who grew up in the area, said there has been a lot of turnover over the years and it's good to see several quality businesses moving in all at once.
"I think having these businesses opening up is really helping the neighborhood," she said.