A Fort Wayne shop is celebrating 40 years. The owner leaves no doubt that the most recent year has been the most challenging of all.

Sara Keltsch launched Monogram Shoppe in 1980. “We started over on South Wayne in a 100-square-foot space,” she said. “What we did primarily is the monograms for all the department stores, like Nobbson’s, Hudson’s, L.S. Ayres, and that’s how we got started.”

“As in everything there are cycles and the cycle of monogramming cycled down and that’s when we added other things,” Keltsch said.

“We got into stationery. We do a lot of weddings. If you want note cards in Fort Wayne you come to see us,” Keltsch said. “People still like to get written notes because they keep them. That’s sort of become our niche.”

“We grew and expanded a few times,” she said.

The store added “& More” to its name, moved to three different storefronts in Time Corners, and on to Covington Plaza. The shop is now in its third home in Covington Plaza. “We’re done moving,” Keltsch said. “Our moves are over.”

“I call us sort of a department store because we have gifts for babies through adults,” she said. “I had a 95-year-old lady here the other day buying her Christmas cards.”

The shop also caters to life events such as weddings, baptisms and graduations.

Keltsch said she is working with the a third generation of some families, helping them to celebrate the same occasions their grandparents celebrated.

Having started it all in motion 40 years ago this month, Keltsch chose Sept. 19 as a day to celebrate the 40th anniversary.

It won’t be the typical celebration, due to COVID-19 restrictions. “We can’t have samples or anything like that but we will have goodie bags and door prizes,” she said. “A lot of our vendors have sent us gifts for door prizes.”

Monogram Shoppe and neighboring Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio have invited two local musicians to offer cello and flute music; the public can say thank you at the tip jar.

Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

“After this spring who knew if we would still be in business,” Keltsch said. “It really has awakened me. You know, you get complacent. And March 19 when the governor shut things down, I had my pity party for one day and then I decided I had two choices. I was either going to close or I was going to make it. And since then we have developed a huge website presence. Every Thursday night we do Facebook Live for a half-hour.” She said some customers have watched her introduce merchandise for each of the 20 weeks.

“Weddings are starting to come back,” she said. “What we’ve done for brides if we’ve done their invitations again at cost because it’s such a sad situation.”

“I feel comfortable,” she said of the new business model and COVID-19 precautions. “I have a great staff. It’s all going to work out fine.”

She added a word of caution. “I think what everybody needs to remember is if you want to see a store in January, everybody needs to shop local,” she said.

“We can deliver,” she said. That expression for making things happen also includes actual deliveries. “If you order from us, I’ll take care of it,” she said. “I was the Easter Bunny and I had ears on and I did Easter basket deliveries. It was quite a sight. And at Christmas we can do the same. We just have to schedule carefully. I’m here to make sure everything gets done.”

Keltsch said the shop continues to offer gifts of practical value. “Everything I’ve got has a purpose,” she said. “It might be a fun purpose. I don’t have a lot of things that just sit around. And people are going to find something they don’t see everyplace else.”

Regular store hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. The Monogram Shoppe & More is at 6410 W. Jefferson Blvd., No. 5. Call 260-436-3138.

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