For the past four years, the hip boutique Indie Indie Bang Bang in Gary's Miller neighborhood has been a place where shoppers could grab decorating accessories, witty cards, chic handbags, gourmet barbecue sauce or blueberry lavender jam handmade in Detroit.
Now it's bringing its eclectic offerings to downtown Valparaiso.
"We're a lifestyle boutique with a little bit of something for everybody," owner Dan Trutter said. "We have a well-curated selection that runs across the board from gourmet to home items to fashion and jewelry and kids items. We have a little bit of everything. We curate high-quality goods at all price points."
A year after it quadrupled its space in Miller, Indie Indie Bang Bang has opened a second location on the downtown courthouse square in Valparaiso. It took over the former Rusted Oak men's boutique space at 19 E. Lincolnway. Trutter said the location on Lake Street in Gary isn't going anywhere and the boutique may eventually look at adding a third location, possibly in Chicago.
"We're always dreaming, always floating ideas of what to do next," he said. "It was one of those things where a good opportunity arose."
Indie Indie Bang Bang's name is meant to be high-energy and evoke the movie "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," Indiana and the fact that it's an independent store. It opened in a smaller 400-square-foot space on Lake Street in 2013.
A few months later, 18th Street Brewery opened, and the new businesses helped usher in a Renaissance of Miller's Lake Street commercial corridor, where new restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and a comedy club have since opened. Indie Indie Bang Bang is one of the core members of the Shops on Lake Street association that tries to market Miller as a shopping destination, such as on First Fridays.
"There wasn't much other retail, but it was one of those things where we had a synergy with 18th Street and Lake Street's kind of made a comeback," he said. "So many businesses have come back on the street. It's been inspiring to be part of the energy happening on the street. So many people wrote it off, and now there's foot traffic and a lot of activity."
On the way to Miller Beach, Indie Indie Bang Bang has drawn customers from Gary, Hobart, Chesterton and Michigan City. It hasn't brought in many customers from Valparaiso, but was interested in locating in a thriving downtown so close to so many popular restaurants and bars.
"The Valparaiso market was really attractive," he said. "It's a college town, and the downtown is so vibrant. There's a lot of foot traffic. There's so many restaurants and shops and energy around us. I don't sense it's the same animal as Miller. We don't have to try to get eyes and attention as much."
The two stores will have about 60 percent of the same offerings, but each will be tailored to its community. The Miller store has a gardening section the Valparaiso store doesn't, while the Valpo location has more kitchen and bar accessories, more men's clothing, different designer jewelry lines, some edgier greeting cards and more fun T-shirts college students might gravitate toward.
"We don't want to be cookie-cutter like a chain," Trutter said. "Each has its own personality, and things specific to each store."
Both Indie Indie Bang Bang stores are closed on Monday, and open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.