By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
EDINA, Mo. -- Jackie Gudehus shuffled through a box of mismatched vintage ice cream scoopers as a modern soft-serve machine hummed in the background.
Customers had conveyed well wishes during Gudehus' first weeks as an owner of LTD Ice Cream and Bridge Creek General Store, but fellow town square shopkeeper Earl Miller showed his confidence with a bit more color: He let Gudehus borrow his college-age son's ice cream scooper collection.
The scoopers spanned several eras, and Miller thought they might make an interesting display at the ice cream shop. That gesture has been part of an outpouring of excitement for Edina's newest business.
"The response was very genuine and positive," Gudehus said. "That always makes you feel good."
Gudehus and her husband, Keith, moved to Knox County after he retired from the military two years ago. He grew up in the area, and the family looked forward to establishing firm roots in his hometown.
The couple began exploring business possibilities on the town square and bought the old Gossman's Jewelry Store in June.
"We thought it would be popular, and an ice-cream cone wouldn't break the bank and could be a treat for the family," Gudehus said. "Everybody loves ice cream."
During the eight-month renovation process, a family of volunteers worked to reveal some of the building's original charm. An ornate tin ceiling was hidden behind drop-ceiling tiles. The wooden floors had been tucked beneath a layer of carpet. The couple removed plaster and exposed the original brick walls. They named the shop LTD, which stands for "Living the Dream," the slogan Keith Gudehus used during his military days.
Jackie Gudehus teamed up with her sister-in-law, Staci Rimer, who owned a home decor and gift business in town.
Ice cream toppings and coffee creamers pepper the countertop, and shelves filled with landscape artwork, rag dolls, scarves and other gifts outline the shop's interior. A handful of tables and chairs grace the spacious floor.
LTD already has developed a collection of regulars. Rimer and Gudehus greet most of their customers by name.
"I think people are just ready to see something else," Rimer said. "This is some other option for the town."
The ice cream shop is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The sisters-in-law said some customers have returned daily. Even with the winter weather, sundaes, shakes and mix-in selections have already sparked interest. The steady stream of customers has enabled Gudehus and Rimer to practice running the shop before what they hope is a spike in business once summer arrives.
Finding the right place for the borrowed ice cream scoopers tops the agenda right now.
The display might generate some customers for Miller's own business, Earl Miller's shop. Each year, he opens his massive collection of antiques, books and collectibles for the town's two largest tourist weekends -- the 200-mile Highway 6 Garage Sale in June and Cornfest in September. Outside of those events, Miller conducts business by appointment. Still, he seemed to think the addition of an ice cream shop might make a difference for the business district.
"This will give me an incentive to at least have my open sign out and my door unlocked," Miller said.
The sisters-in-law see potential in the community and hope their business encourages other entrepreneurs to take a chance on the small Knox County community.
For now, however, they are happy to provide another meeting spot.
"I think it just gives us another gathering place and a place to meet," Gudehus said.