|RUSHVILLE, Ind. — On March 3, 15 years ago, Elizabeth Innis stepped out and took a big chance in this downtown small county seat (pop. 6,341), amid the cornfields of East Central Indiana.
On a credit card, an abundance of confidence and a wealth of talents, Innis opened the doors to Elizabeth’s Keepsakes. It was a landmark for not only Rushville, but for Innis.
To celebrate her 15th anniversary, celebrated during the first weekend in March, the store will offer 15 percent discounts on its antiques, plus have cake, refreshments and a special drawing for its customers.
The past 15 years have gone quickly, Innis says. However, in her matchless manner, word of her shop is becoming known far and wide.
“My daughter and I were on one of our back-road antiquing trips … I think we were somewhere in Tennessee,” she recalls. “We were in a shop, way back off the road, and I was talking with the lady there. I asked her if she accepted tax exempt options for dealers. She kept asking me where my shop was … I told her you would never know where it is. Once I explained where we were located, she said, ’you mean that shop that smells so good (scented candles).’ And I couldn’t believe she had been at our shop; she didn’t remember the name, but she remembered how nice it smelled … I won’t stand for any mustiness or clutter in my shop.”
As a “military brat,” Innis has traveled throughout the world. She has lived in Japan, Hawaii, South Dakota and California and traveled extensively throughout Europe. The Midwest was a novelty. Unlike many antique shop owners, Innis didn’t grow up in an antique environment.
“We moved every two years,” she says. “It was pick up, throw everything away and travel to the next base. Antiques were not a part of my life, but I was always attracted to them.”
During those early years, in San Diego, she began to dabble in antiques, first opening a small booth and later becoming a manager of Granny’s Antiques. “I’ve always been curious; I like to learn. My father taught us early on not to be afraid of stepping out there and doing something different. I was taught not to be afraid.” With typical determination, she turned Elizabeth’s Keepsakes into one of the premiere antique and collectibles shop in the Midwest. Her secret?
“You’ve got to love your customers,” she says.
A good majority of her clientele are repeat customers. The mother of four grown children (two daughters and twin sons), Innis is a natural “people person,” always prepared with a smile and quip.It also doesn’t hurt, being an expert baker and cook.
She arrives early in the store each morning; to bake and prepare the sandwiches and soup she serves to eager customers every day. After establishing her roots in Indiana 15 years ago, she bakes an Indiana sugar cream pie as befits any true Hoosier. During the summer, her lemon cookies and lemon bars are, in themselves, worth the drive to her keepsake enterprise.
The 5,000-square-foot store is composed of 10 local vendors who keep a broad variety of antiques and collectibles on hand, from Victorian and primitive furniture and furnishings, old crocks and pitchers, vintage clothing, old wooden-handled kitchen items and more.
Although interspersed throughout the store are new “primitive” wares, Innis said “a good two-thirds” of her shop is devoted to antiques.
Elizabeth’s Keepsakes is located on Indiana State Road 3 in downtown Rushville, at 237 N. Main St.