The Ekalaka Eagle - Your Community Builder

On top of the hill and hide-away


Ryan OConnell

Hideaway Gifts, a new shop full of unique items, is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and beginning at noon on Sundays.

Jo Kittelmann threw a kitchen boa around her neck, a three-foot-long cloth with red dish towels at the head and tail, and explained its usefulness. Instead of a wet tea towel over the shoulder, the boa keeps shirts from getting soaked while allowing either end to be wet and the other dry. Or both dry. Or both wet. It's one piece of material with four possibilities.

Unique items like the boa are what Hideaway Gifts is all about. Located in the Rockwellesque school house by the old county yard, the store aims to bring "things you can't get in Ekalaka" to Ekalaka.

Soaps disguised as delicious looking pastries sit on a table in front of two comfortable looking yellow chairs. Paint cans stuffed with men's toiletry sets and ammo cans holding more soap are shelved near a white trimmed window.

Purses, pillows and finely crafted bird houses start on one end of the south wall and a $5 jewelry wall sparkles at the other.

A corner display offers clothes, toys and books for the communities' babies, current and future. Kittelmann said there are many on the way. Nerf guns sit atop a shelf of classic board games and locally made stick ponies, with manes of yarn, look ready to be ridden out the schoolhouse door.

Ryan OConnell

Jo Kittelmann stands in the doorway of Hideaway Gifts at 572 Chicago Street in Ekalaka.

The origin of the schoolhouse is difficult to pin down. At some point, after it was done serving as a school, it was moved from near Dewey Elmore's ranch to its current location. The school was rented out and lived in for decades before it's transformation into a boutique. During the year long process, a loft was torn out, a bedroom sealed and the walls and ceiling - bullet holes - were spackled. Kittelmann kept the floor which, after a vigorous scrubbing, ended up matching the paint scheme. "Everything just worked together," she said.

For now, Hideaway Gifts will be open part-time, at least until Kittelmann retires from the Farm Service Agency and can commit more time to her store. While those plans are far off, this summer she is focusing on landscaping and making the path to the store more accessible.

Kittelmann chose the name "Hideaway" because the store sits on the outskirts of town, up on a slight hill and behind a tree. The perfect place for things people haven't seen before.


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