Samantha Dalkilic-Miestowski, owner of St. John’s The Steeple Gallery, believes shopping local creates a sense of value and a connection with the community.
“I think the value is the fact that it is Chicagoland style with low Northwest Indiana prices,” Dalkilic-Miestowski said. “That is the good thing about using your small businesses. They are tapping into local cultures. It could be music. It could be theater. It could be photography or other original works.”
Dalkilic-Miestowski said local businesses provide a network of knowledge and are community driven.
“They care about their community,” Dalkilic-Miestowski, who belongs to three local chambers and volunteers her time when she can, said. “They volunteer.”
Established in 1999, The Steeple Gallery is located at 11107 Thiel the site of the former Central Assembly of God church. Previously dilapidated, the church has been transformed into a retail gallery specializing in custom framing, glass, ceramics, sculpture, bronze, steel, industrial, oils and watercolor works of art. Some paintings depict steelworkers toiling away and others smoky factories and some sculptures portray lunch pail-toting construction workers perched on sky-high steel beams.
“People want something unique if they are going to spend their money,” Dalkilic-Miestowski said. “I think they want to have a personal connection with it. The gallery is a good place for people who appreciate our heritage whether we are Polish or somebody who worked in the mill. It is kind of cool to buy from a local cultural place now more than ever. Americans want to buy more American-made products.”
Dalkilic-Miestowski said that she believes Region residents are proud to be from the Region.
“There is a connection that even when they leave they always come back and know they are connected in some way,” she said. “My gallery has always been an anchor to our steel heritage and to the ruralness.”
Dalkilic-Miestowski said she likes that St. John “is still kind of like the Wild West still flourishing and attracting all kinds of different people.”
“People living in St. John are sophisticated people, travelers used to driving, used to Chicago, yet used to the rural,” she said. “They are very well-rounded people not just one dimensional. Our customers are very cosmopolitan but small town, like a big city taste with a small town feel.”
The Steeple Gallery can be reached at (219) 365-1014. Their website is www.thesteeplegallery.com and they have a Facebook page.
Branya’s Bakery owners Jean and Dennis TheiIe love doing business in St. John.
“I love the community part of it,” Jean Theile said. “I know a lot of the customers. Everyone seems to live just down the street. It is nice because you get to know the people who are your neighbors. It has been great great community support from them since we opened.”
Branya’s, located at 9159 Wicker Ave., prides itself on being “the only scratch bakery in Northwest Indiana,” she said. “So we use a recipe and not a box.”
Jean Theile is a culinary chef by trade and her husband is a pastry chef.
Branya’s recently added gluten-free options to its baked goods selection.
The baked goods, including fresh breads and donuts, are made completely without gluten, Theile said.
“There is a huge demand for it in the community,” Theile said. “Being able to bake it fresh is an advantage because most of the products that are available and made without gluten are frozen or cryo-sealed. The grocery stores can only carry so much and it’s never fresh.”
Hot soups made from scratch along with made to order sandwiches and salads are available at Branya’s Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a menu that is constantly changing. The soup is also available cold anytime of the day in quarts to be taken home and heated.
“A lot of what we do is the seasonality of things,” Jean Theile said. “You won’t see pumpkin here in the bakery until the beginning of October. But you also won’t see strawberries in January.”
In spite of working about 100 hours per week at the bakery, the Theile’s still find time to be involved with the NICK Foundation, a charitable organization which aids Northwest Indiana children with cancer.
Branya’s can be reached at (219) 558-8712. Their website is www.branyasbakery.com and they have a Facebook page.
Family owned and operated DeYoung Interiors, located at 8365 Wicker Ave. (US 41 across from Lake Central High School), prides itself on being a business which customers can trust and depend on, co-owner John DeYoung said.
Owned by John DeYoung and his cousins Jerry DeYoung, Robert Scheuneman and Thomas McGehee, DeYoung Interiors was named as a finalist in the 2013 Times Best of the Region survey in the Home Décor category.
Starting September 26, DeYoung Interiors will begin its 85th anniversary sale which will run through Oct. 12.
“That is so amazing because we have such a long history in the Region and we are still here,” John DeYoung said. “I am just so proud of that. We have four generations working in the business. DeYoung Interiors stands the test of time in the Region.”
DeYoung Interiors carries all types of furniture and accessories, including flooring and window treatments which can be customized. They provide space planning assistance and interior design service, DeYoung said, and offer financing with convenient terms.
In addition to the 27,500 square-foot St. John store, DeYoung Interiors has a 25,000 square-foot warehouse facility in Schererville.
“We all work every day,” John DeYoung said. “There is always somebody in the building in management. If you are in need of something we can make a call on it. We are hands on. We have always been that way.”
A member of the St. John Economic Development Commission, DeYoung enjoys doing business there.
“Since we came to town the town has been very proactive and pro-business,” John DeYoung said. “They want to do everything they can to make business work in the community. They were open to ideas and some change and they were great to work with.”
DeYoung said he loves the family values in St. John.
“It’s amazing,” John DeYoung said. “We have those same values because we are a faith-based company and closed on Sundays.”
DeYoung Interiors can be reached at (219) 365-8362. Their website is www.deyoungandsons.com and they have a Facebook page.
Malinich Jewelers, owned by Martin and Denise Malinich, is located at 9153 Wicker Ave. The Malinich’s have been Lake County goldsmiths, jewelry designers and watch and clock makers for 45 years with three generations currently working in the business. Prior to opening their own store, they ran a trade shop out of their home for eight years. They have done repairs, sizing and custom design for major department stores including Marshall Field & Company, Carson Pirie Scott and L.S. Ayres.
Office Manager Dorene Peterson said what sets Malinich Jewelers apart is that they both design and repair jewelry on the premises. They also repair watches.
“We don’t send our work out,” Peterson said.
Malinich Jewelers has a new line of watches, Citizens, which come with a five-year warranty, Peterson said.
“They are fantastic,” Peterson said. “They have sapphire crystals. They have the longest warranty of any watch on the market with phenomenal styles and interesting new designs which appeal to the younger minds.”
Peterson said the shop is lucky to be located in St. John.
“We have really been growing in the last two years,” Peterson said. “We associate that with going above and beyond. We wrap things for people. We are very accommodating.”
“If customers need things in a day we do it,” Peterson said. “The customers in general are just great. They are nice, educated, a great group of people to work with. They are a smart group of people.”
Peterson said the Malinich’s believe in giving back to the community.
“They have given to school teams, bands every cancer relief person, the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police), the American Legion, the Carmelite Home,” Peterson said. “They are very community-minded.”
Peterson said what amazes customers is that the store personnel are so friendly and professional. Peterson said the staff educates their customers about what they are purchasing.
“There are no smoking mirrors here,” Peterson said. “The customer is always right.”
Malinich jewelry caters to all pocket books, Peterson said, carrying a wide range of items from silver beaded bracelets which sell for $9 on up to promise and engagement rings. .
“If you need that little extra touch come to Malinich,” Peterson said.
Malinich Jewelers can be reached at (219) 365-1246. Their website is www.malinichjewelers.com.