Small business in Bowling Green continues to thrive after major challenges.

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – Many small business owners have faced many challenges in recent years.

Here’s the story of a Wood County business owner who overcame all obstacles and came out the other side stronger than ever.

For Keeps opened in 1997 as a general gift shop selling everything from home decor and accessories to ceramics and quirky gifts.

The store has survived both the Great Recession and the COVID-19 crisis. The owner says there are a few simple reasons for this.

Owner Amy Craft Ahrens said keeping the doors open comes down to customer service.

“You have to be agile and open to change. We also need to do what we do about the shopping experience. People want to come into a store like ours with amazing smells and beautiful things to look at during the shopping experience.”

Ahrens said her parents, who are entrepreneurs in Bowling Green, offered her advice, which she credits for her success.

“They told me to save all that money because I don’t know what will happen. It was the best advice I got because I needed all that money to get through the recession that hit in 2008-2009. When we made it through about five years of that recession, I remember telling an assistant at the time that we can overcome anything. then COVID hit.”

When the store closed during the pandemic, Ahrens said an idea was born that is still paying off today. The idea led to mystery boxes filled with fun gifts. “We put together mystery boxes based on a person’s likes and dislikes. We do all the work. We wrap the gift and mail it and you’re done. It helped us get through the pandemic and helped me pay my staff during that period.”

Deb Baerwaldt is a long-time customer of For Keeps and a small business owner herself. She said support can come in many forms.

“It’s not just about financial support. With social media these days you can share the story of a business. There are many ways to support a small business. Leaving a good review is also very important.” Together, these forms of support are what keep places like downtown Bowling Green thriving.

For Keeps has a big party coming up on August 20 to mark its quarter century in business. To learn more, click here.

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