With its small town atmosphere and historic downtown, Lowell is also home to a large variety of businesses enabling residents to “Shop Local First.”
From restaurants and garden centers to car dealerships and gift and antique shops, Lowell has it all.
Aunt Nae’s Gifts from Past and Present, 302 E. Commercial Ave., is a nice mixture of new gifts and old, antique, vintage, and retro items. Owner Renae Helton said she also creates balloon bouquets and custom gift baskets to make any occasion memorable.
Formerly known as You Shouldn't Have Gift Shop, Aunt Nae’s not only carries most of the quality merchandise their customers have come to expect but has added even more unique items. And they deliver. There are many inspirational gifts and items for sports buffs. Helton creates unique gift baskets as well.
Where else can you find singing telegrams? For only $25, local, talented singer Betsy Plant performs singing telegrams for any occasion. Singing telegrams are only available within a 20-mile radius of the store.
Helton said the best thing about having a business in Lowell is the camaraderie.
“All of the businesses work with each other,” Helton said. “If we don't have an item the customer is looking for, we send them to the other gift shops in town. In fact, we send them to each other’s stores anyway, just to help each other out.”
Helton enjoys the friendly customers.
“They probably spend more time chatting with me than shopping - but that's okay,” Helton said. “I like it when customers feel comfortable shopping in my store and talking to me about where they're from, what they do for a living, what they're looking for, their families, etc.”
Helton believes in being involved in all the community activities whenever she can.
“Times are pretty tough but I will donate to various causes when asked,” Helton said. “I will put activities of different organizations on my electronic sign and try to help plan various activities for the downtown area.”
To contact Aunt Nae’s call (219) 690-1180, visit their website at http://auntnae.com. Aunt Nae’s is closed Monday, open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Located at 16855 Mississippi, for 20 years JR's Custom Cabinets, Inc. has been in the business of bringing ideas and concepts to practically-designed reality. JR's is a family-owned and operated company who creates quality custom kitchens, vanities, bars, entertainment centers, wall units, or mantles at affordable prices.
Serving clients in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan, JR's Custom Cabinets have built a reputation for quality design, workmanship and unmatched customer service.
Joe Long, a partner in the company, said he was born and raised in Lowell.
“It is nice to work where you live,” Long said. “Lowell is a nice little town in the center of everything, all the surrounding communities including Chicago and Indianapolis.”
Long said the most satisfying thing about his business is the creative aspect of the custom work.
“Being able to create something and when it’s all done you think ‘wow we did that!’” Long said.
JR’s is open Monday through Thursday 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. They can be reached at (219) 696-7205. For more information visit their website at http://www.jrscustomcabinets.com or JR’s Custom Cabinets on Facebook.
Gardens on the Prairie 3242 W. 169th, was established in 2001 on seven and one-half acres. The retail space encompasses three acres of nursery stock, nine extensively planted display gardens, and two retail greenhouses.
Garden on the Prairie owner Wayne Gruber aims to provide the gardener with professional advice, friendly and knowledgeable service and a unique selection of plant material. The garden center carries more than 30,000 perennials, unusual annuals, specialty trees and shrubs, exotic tropicals and succulents and water plants.
Gruber encourages residents and their families to visit the gardens throughout the season. This past year visitors came from as far away as Belgium, Germany and England.
Customized seminars are offered with a range of garden-related topics. Workshops, seminars and tours can be tailored to individual groups.
Gardens on the Prairie provides a beautiful and tranquil setting for photos and wedding ceremonies.
Gruber said his location draws customers from both Lowell and Crown Point.
Gruber said he finds Lowell a laid back and friendly community.
“You see tractors go by and people wave to you,” Gruber said. “It’s a little different feel.”
A Lowell Chamber of Commerce member, Gruber sometimes hosts their events and dinners at Gardens on the Prairie.
He is a huge supporter of the Lowell Garden Club and has participates in the Lowell garden walk seven years.
Center hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For additional information call (219) 690-0910 or visit their website at http://gardensontheprairie.com. They also have a Facebook page.
Smith Chevy of Lowell, 700 W. Commercial Ave., has served the town for seven years. The dealership offers a large selection of new and used Chevrolet cars, trucks, and SUVs.
The company strives to make the sales process as simple as possible by matching their customers to the vehicle which best suits them.
General Manager Dan Biegel said the dealership offers a full service department with a body shop and auto parts. The sales division is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Service hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
“I like the community, being south of everyone and out here by itself,” Biegel said. “People tend to stay loyal to the Lowell businesses.”
Biegel said that customers who buy either a new or used car at Smith Chevy of Lowell like that they can get it serviced in town and not have to drive to Rt. 30.
Biegel said Chevrolet came out with its “13 in 13” promotion of new models in 2013. He said the most popular seller in Lowell is the revamped Chevy Silverado.
Currently, there are great deals and huge rebates on the remaining cars in stock as the dealership makes way for the 2014 models, Biegel said. Biegel urges customers to check out the company’s website which features specials, service coupons, sales incentives and deals on lease programs. Smith Chevy of Lowell’s website is http://www.smithmotorsoflowell.com.
Biegel said Smith Chevy believes in giving back to the community.
“We just gave Lowell Little League a donation and we sponsor the Lowell Bluebirds softball team,” Biegel said.
The donation helps purchase equipment, including sports bags and baseballs for the players.
The Smith Chevy Sales Department can be reached at (219) 552-8043 and the Service Department at (219) 552-8618.
In addition to its authentic and freshly-made Mexican cuisine and sumptuous margaritas, Mi Ranchito is known for its impressive entries in local parades throughout Northwest Indiana. The often award-winning entry features live Mariachis and colorfully-costumed dancers and horseback riders who put their horses through dance moves. For Crown Point’s St. Patrick’s Day twilight parade, the show horses are decked in lights.
Sam Quirarte, who owns Mi Ranchito with his wife Rosa, said he has been around horses age five. So when he decided to participate in the Lowell Labor Day parade it was a natural to include his horses and those of his friends, he said.
“We had 40 horses in our group and 100 people who wanted to participate. It was so big because everybody wants to come and be in the parade. Their entry has won first place in Lowell for 13 years, he said.
Quirarte attributes his restaurant’s popularity to its quality food and service. He says their margaritas are also a big draw.
“People tell me they are the best margaritas anywhere even in Mexico,” Quirarte said.
Most of their business comes through word of mouth and customers traveling to Mi Ranchito from all over Northwest Indiana, he said.
In Lowell for 19 years, Quirarte said his restaurant located there at just the right time.
“The town has been growing and growing,” Quirarte said.
Located at 149 W. Commercial Avenue, Mi Ranchito can be reached at (219) 696-2270.