A little store in the middle of Kansas is a hub for Kansas-made products. Heart of Kansas Mercantile in Great Bend specializes in as many quality Kansas products as they can find – from jellies to jewelry.
"We buy stuff we love and other people love," said Leslie Mingenback, the store’s manager and buyer. "We are a unique boutique."
What started out as a way to generate more life into downtown Great Bend has turned into a downtown landmark, with customers coming from all parts of Kansas.
"They come from all over," Mingenback said. "They often come back."
Along with candles from Ellinwood, beef jerky from Liebenthal, jelly from Hutchinson, seasoning from Greensburg and mustard from McPherson, the shop carries Kansas-made animal food and seasonal décor.
"We are bringing something different to the table," said Shelley Carson, who works at the shop. "We just have the nicest customers."
Mingenback is thrilled to be able to offer customers not only a slice of Kansas, but a place to come to and admire the ingenuity of people from across the state.
"We’re always open to new products," Mingenback said. "We try to change things up."
Great Bend artists are also featured at the shop – including photographers and floral designers. Great Bend artist Loretta Miller sculpts fall decorations and Santa sculptures for customers nationwide. Heart of Kansas Mercantile carries many of her sculptures.
Mingenback said people are excited to have a place to shop. Kansas Mercantile is attached to the clothing store – Miss Pretty Pickles. This shop carries both clothing and accessories, some of which come from the Sunflower State.
"If you can buy local, we need it," Mingenback said. "I see the internet as a double-edged sword. It’s robbing the taxes of our small communities."