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New Year’s Eve is a night where we look back and celebrate what has been. My heart was so full as I reflected on the nearly four decades spent with all of you at Nell Hill’s. I remember …

Laboring to cut huge wedges of imported cheeses with my mom’s dull butter knife, to tuck into the baskets we sold at the Gourmet Corner, before we became Nell Hill’s. The fact that I didn’t know a thing about gourmet food, except that I liked to eat it, did not dull my enthusiasm as I blundered about, building the business.

Being “discovered” at the Kansas City Junior League Holiday Mart. As we sold out of inventory, my parents ran back and forth between Kansas City and Atchison to restock our booth. We couldn’t believe our good fortune.

The daily arrival of SUVs filled with girlfriends who made the hour-long trek to Atchison to shop and just spend time together. They packed in as much laughter and fun as they could, finding treasures for their homes, before they zipped back to pick up their kids at school.

Standing on my porch, welcoming guests to my spring, fall and holiday open houses or book signings. We never pulled off one of these grand shows without an adrenaline-fused photo finish. I can’t believe my staff and friends didn’t mutiny!

Working with customers every day at the store, helping them bring their vision for their home to life, solve some of their most frustrating decorating challenges or prepare for a party or event.

Because of all of you all, Nell Hill’s has been much more than a store. It’s been a celebration of friendship, with our homes as the convener. It’s three generations of women — grandma, daughters and granddaughters — starting their holiday season here. It’s young people building their lives, picking out their first sofa or table for their new home. It’s friends planning dinner parties, dropping by to get table top ideas to fuel their creativity. It’s laughter, encouragement, inspiration, fun.

There is no other way I’d rather live my life, than helping make these magic moments happen. I am so grateful to every member of my team, who have put up with my crazy ideas. To the customers who have trusted us with helping make their houses into homes. To all the lifelong friends I’ve made at this special place. To Dan and Kelly for sticking with me, even when all there was to eat in the house was popcorn and champagne because I worked late instead of going to the grocery store.

Now, I can’t wait for the next chapter.

When I started Nell Hill’s 37 years ago, I never thought the day would come when I would hand off my “baby” to someone else. Now, I’m ready. The one thing I love even more than Nell Hill’s is Dan. For years, he’s patiently waited while I worked way too many hours and said no to way too many vacations with him.

So many great things still await us all. Come by and see me at the store in 2019 and meet Katie, the wonderful new guardian of Nell Hill’s. See you soon!

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This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com

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