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A New Start

By Staff | Aug 12, 2010

FIRST AND LAST – Aug. 5, 1981, Shirley Weisbrod was the first customer at the Calico Cupboard. Twenty-nine years later, Aug. 5, 2010, Shirley was in the Calico Cupboard on its last day of business. Deb Hite (right) closed the Calico Cupboard to pursue a new career as Executive Director of Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce. –Lori Hall photo

Deb Hite has moved from one career to another, almost overnight.

After 29 years as owner/operator of the Calico Cupboard, downtown Emmetsburg, Deb closed up shop and began a new chapter as Executive Director of Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce. She started her new job Monday, Aug. 9.

“I’m looking forward to new challenges,” Deb said.

She has goals for the chamber. “I want to continue building the chamber as a community connection and we are looking forward to a new format for the radio station and channel three. I’d also like to continue to strengthen the relationship with the city, which Katie (Kahler) started, to work as a whole.”

Deb Hite’s experience as a business owner and as a property manager will be a benefit in her new position with the chamber.

The Calico Cupboard opened in 1981 in the building where M&T Woodworks is now located.

“I started the store with a smile on my face and 29 years to the day I closed it with a smile on my face,” said Deb. “Over the years I met the greatest people. Quilters are very friendly people.”

The Emmetsburg business actually started out with fashion fabrics. When the farm crisis hit, women went back to work and there wasn’t as much time for sewing. Then, quilting made a comeback.

“When I first started quilting classes, Chuck (Deb’s husband) and I would cut all the strips for the people taking the class. This was before they invested in their own equipment for quilting. Chuck has always been wonderfully supportive.”

In 1990, Deb’s father purchased the building at Main and Broadway. Deb moved her growing business into the corner store in 1990. In 1993 her father purchased the Kermore building.

“I believe my role as property manager will help me be a good chamber director,” said Deb. “I also have experience in retail business that will be helpful.”

Deb Hite was instrumental in starting Emmetsburg Retail Association, an arm of Emmetsburg Chamber of commerce.

“The goal we set at the Retail Association was to keep it positive and move it forward,” said Deb. “We can do that with the chamber, too. Let’s see what we can build with the community.”

On the last day of business, Shirley Weisbrod was in the Calico Cupboard. She was Deb Hite’s first customer on Aug. 5, 1981.

“She needed a zipper and knocked on the door, even though the shop was not supposed to open until the following Monday,” said Deb. “I couldn’t believe that Chuck remembered who the first customer was.”

Deb had her one day of “retirement” last Friday before beginning her new job at the Chamber of Commerce on Monday, Aug. 9.

Chuck and Deb plan to spend a few more weekends with their daughter, Shanda, and granddaughter, Maddie, in West Des Moines.

“I’m looking forward to having a little more grandma time with Maddie,” said Deb.