Downtown Lincoln stores welcome new business with Route 66 Block Party

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[November 07, 2016]  LINCOLN - On Saturday, downtown Lincoln in the 100 block of North Kickapoo was a great place to stop by and play, visit with friends, and have a good time shopping three local businesses including the newly opened Sir Renna Tea & Gifts. The party was themed as a Route 66 Block Party, but was also an opportunity for existing businesses on the block to welcome owner Eileen Mullinsí new store that features bubble tea.

The street was blocked off to traffic, and there was a number of activities going on there. Among those, was an opportunity for folks to have their photo taken with their beloved pet in exchange for a donation to the Central Bark Dog Park, a project currently underway in Lincoln.

Also on hand was the Humane Society of Logan County selling their beautiful calendar that features local first responders from throughout Logan County.

Another set of tables was set up showing off an array of new woven products being offered at Abeís Carmelcorn Shoppe. Bounce houses were set up for the kids as well as some life-sized kidís games similar to Kerplunk and Jenga.

Integrity Data, located on the northwest corner of the block was also represented with a table set up in front of Sir Renna where visitors could register to win a floral gift from Three Roses Floral. There was also an opportunity to enter into a drawing for a large gift basket filled with goodies from Abeís, Prairie Years, and Sir Renna.

Inside Prairie Years, there was plenty to see, and shoppers were taking the time to go in take a look around and make some nice purchases. Word got out earlier this fall that Prairie Years might be going out of business. Saturday, store employee Carole Boch said the store had been in jeopardy of closing. However, owner Sam Redding took a step back and looked at the merchandising plan and made some positive adjustments. They had adjusted their line of adult items such as jewelry and increased their line of Abraham Lincoln-related items. She said shoppers had responded positively to the changes, and the store will remain open.

Indeed there are some really fun things in the store, such as the extra-large stuffed animals, beautiful and unique jewelry items, books and toys that require no batteries or internet, and lots of other fun things for kids and adults.

Next door at Abeís, Helen Rainforth was excited to see folks coming in and admiring the wide variety of items offered in her store. She said that for her personally, one of the most gratifying things is when people say they enjoy the way the store looks and seeing all the wonderfully unique items.

In addition to the display of baskets outside, there is a full corner of the store dedicated to other items made from similar materials. Rainforth explained that last year, her business began selling these lovely woven items that were coming from India, and made by the women of that country. The items are woven or hand tied material baskets as well as other ornamental items. She said the female owned business recycles worn out and used clothing in their weaving, which accounts for the wide variety of colors and textures in the products.

As always, the store features its wonderful popcorn products, isles and isles of candy, gourmet food products, and some amazing kitchen and home products.


Sir Renna Tea & Gifts is new to Lincoln. The business opened quietly in October and will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting with the Lincoln/Logan County Chamber of Commerce later this month. Bubble Tea is well known in many of the larger cities, but for Lincoln, this is a newer product.

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On Saturday, Eileen Mullins, owner of the store was busy mixing up samples of the special brew and also filling orders for full-sized drinks placed by customers. Bubble tea is a tea product served with Black Pearl Tapioca in the glass, which produces bubbles in the tea and thus the name. Samples being given out include a rich, cool Mocha and other offerings such as raspberry.

The Mocha was sweet and chocolatey. It was explained that the drink contained a decaffeinated tea to which was added a rich mocha powder and the tapioca. The result was a delicious chocolate drink with light tea undertones. In addition to the special beverage, the shop will also offer sandwiches for a quick and delicious lunch.

But, even if you are not in the mood for tea or a bite to eat, this is a store that every shopper should stop in and browse a bit, especially as we approach the gift-giving season. The retail section of the store includes unique items such as wall hangings, dream catchers, Route 66 items, body lotions and skin products, soy candles, jewelry, and much more.

Back outside, Lincoln Mayor Marty Neitzel and aldermen Jonie Tibbs and Rick Hoefle were enjoying the opportunity to get out and see folks as they came and went at the block party. Also on hand, enjoying the tribute to Route 66 was Geoff Ladd of the Route 66 Heritage Foundation.

Ladd, who also works for the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, is currently working with the city of Lincoln to install new Route 66 signage that will include the downtown area. As some may know, the Route 66 Mother Road passed through Lincoln, and at one point in time the route included a spur that passed through the downtown area. Until now, that downtown route has not been marked for tourists, but it will be soon. The expectation is that avid Route 66 travelers will be eager to see the old route well marked, and will come into the downtown area, where it is hoped that they will stop and take in the many retail businesses that grace the heart of the city. North Kickapoo will be part of that newly marked route.

All-in-all, it was a great day, the weather was perfect, many folks came out with their pets, and the kids had a blast playing with the games and jumping in the bounce houses. Shoppers enjoyed visiting with business owners and checking out the storesí offerings, and Sir Renna Tea was made to feel welcome in the community.

[Nila Smith]

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