You can find Larry Baus by the front door, lingering around the produce section.
As one of the co-managers of A Street Market, he spends most of his time talking with customers. He also likes to “tinker” with the produce, like a handyman, making sure each ripe tomato is in place.
The grocery store has been a part of the community at 33rd and A streets for 50 years, and Baus has been the owner for 25 years. It’s one of several businesses in the area committed to serving the community.
“It’s still an old-fashioned grocery store,” Baus said. “The concept we’ve always had was service and quality. We still have people to bag groceries and carry them out to your car. Customers always say we remind them of their hometown grocery store.”
The market specializes in local foods — products people will drive across town to get. Some of its more popular items include ground beef, pork sausage, farm-fresh eggs and produce. The market offers soup daily and customers are crazy about Taco Tuesdays, when the market serves walking tacos on the first Tuesday of every month. Baus is often asked for the secret ingredient, and it turns out it's the main ingredient — their ground beef.
He manages the store along with his daughter Angela Barry, and about 35 employees work at the market, including Baus’ wife, sister and three grandchildren. They also hire students from several high schools around Lincoln.
“All of our employees make sure our customers are taken care of,” Barry said. “Lots of school kids that work for us have come to the store since they were little. We give them their first jobs.”
Baus has always believed the 33rd and A neighborhood was perfect for them because of the people, and they know most customers' names.
“We try to tell people this is their store; we’re just the custodians,” Baus said. “We’ve been here 25 years and we plan to be here a long time to come. A lot of employees that have worked here a long time are like my children.”
Baus owns the entire building A Street Market occupies, including an empty retail space that used to be National Pharmacy until it closed last year. He's waiting for the perfect tenant to come before he leases the space. He also leases the building to Valentino’s, and the east end of his parking lot to Moran’s Liquor, which has been in the 33rd and A community for almost as long as A Street Market.
Kirk Bahm and his two sons, Eric and Travis Bahm, have owned Moran’s for the past 12 years. They purchased it from the previous owner, who had it for 24 years, and someone else owned it for a while before that.
About 2 1/2 years ago, the Bahms transformed their storage area into a tasting room and began selling 12 different craft beers daily. Customers can buy singles, make their own six packs (their best-selling item) or purchase a 32 ounce to-go can. The store routinely interchanges different craft beers throughout the week.
“We have so much support from the neighborhood,” Eric Bahm said. “But we also get people from all over the city. The best part are the customers and 90 percent of them are repeat customers.”
Moran’s receives its craft beer from all over the world, but local brands have been more popular. Sometimes the store receives shipments with just 24 cans, or kegs from Omaha that will only last a couple of hours. Once an announcement is out, customers will swarm to the store in an excited hurry.
“Almost every day we have something we didn’t have before,” Eric Bahm said. “Every day there’s also someone who is discovering us for the first time. That’s a great feeling.”
The father-and-sons trio also enjoys community outreach. They partner with bike shop Cycle Works every year for Tour de Brew, a charitable bike ride. About once a month, they also donate 20 percent of a day’s sales to a local charity. In the past five years, Moran’s has raised about $30,000 for the Lincoln community.
“The neighborhood has changed for the better in the past 12 years,” Eric Bahm said. “We like this location. It’s important for us to be good neighbors.”
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MembersOwn Credit Union was located in downtown Lincoln for 75 years before it moved to the 33 and A intersection in 2012.
“There’s a lot of longtime people living in this neighborhood,” said credit union president of 29 years, Linda Carter. “This is a really committed corner; a lot of people want to shop local.”
The credit union started as the Lincoln Telephone Employees Cooperation Credit Association in 1936. It now has 8,800 members.
All 16 employees take pride in the fact they know who their members are. The credit union features a member every quarter through a Facebook contest and the person chosen picks a charity for MembersOwn to donate to.
It has been harder for business since the pharmacy and Nelson’s Cleaners left, but one of the reasons the credit union chose the location was because all of its members are scattered around the city, so being in the middle of the city is best for everyone.
“There is a lot more community here than downtown,” Carter said. “We are planning to grow enough to keep the member (number) healthy in this close-knit neighborhood.”
If you walk a few steps past the credit union, you’ll find a small store with a red pick-up truck out front.
The owner enjoys the outdoors, creating art and making T-shirts. A lot of T-shirts.
Little Mountain Print Shoppe was founded in 2010 by head designer Joe Horacek. He started the screen printing business in his basement.
“I always think of myself as an artist first,” Horacek said. “A T-shirt is like a canvas for my art. First I started just shipping products, but then it was awkward for (people) to walk into some dude’s basement.”
Horacek moved into his location on 33rd and A in 2012. He specializes in custom orders or his own work and sells products locally and worldwide. Each piece of apparel is hand printed and sometimes he gets orders that consist of printing hundreds of shirts at once.
His work is organic, featuring inspirations from nature and adventure. Each design is started from pen or pencil on paper, complete with little imperfections that make each piece unique.
All of his designs are part of the Little Mountain brand, a name that Horacek created after he quit his job in 2009. He used to work at a couple of screen printing shops as a designer, but became bored and felt like he plateaued in his work.
While rummaging through a pile of his father’s old photos, he came across a landscape scene with rolling hills and a little mountain in the background. Horacek also means "little mountain." He knew right away when he stared at the picture what his brand was going to be called.
“The biggest reward in what I do is not only am I able to draw and illustrate all of my own artwork and print it, but people come in and buy my shirts,” Horacek said. “I walk around town and see people wearing the shirts I printed. That’s pretty cool.”