A Shop Full of Candles, Florals, Home Décor, Gifts, and More

The LastingLite Emporium opened in September 2015.

By Angie Landsverk

Cindy Reusser has always loved and had a knack for creating.

Her children were young when she started making crafts to sell in her home. Cindy did this so she could stay home with her children while her husband, Neal, worked.

In 1999, Cindy and Neal, along with her father, Earl, invented the LastingLite Electric Candle. Her business began to grow, with Neal joining her in 2000. Their company is CR Designs.

Neal and Cindy eventually felt a pull to open a retail space. The LastingLite Emporium opened on Sept. 11, 2015, in downtown Berne, Indiana.

They own the gift shop. Their daughter, Jennifer Reusser, is the manager, and their daughter-in-law, Shelby Reusser, oversees the accounting. “Everyone working in our store is either family or lifelong family friends,” Jennifer said.

Berne is a small community of about 4,000 residents. It was settled by Swiss immigrants who were fleeing religious persecution in the mid-1880s.

“Our great-great-grandparents are some of the first settlers to the area,” Jennifer said. “We also have a large Amish community in the area.”

Cindy and Neal Reusser.
Pictured (from left) are Shelby Reusser, Cindy Reusser (holding Nelleigh Reusser), and Jennifer Reusser.

Jennifer said they looked at sev­eral spaces for their gift shop before finding the perfect location in 2014 and purchasing the building later that year. “We had been looking for a retail location that could also house our wholesale division for several years. We found our current location through a friend,” she said. “Once we started the updates, we realized that it would just work for retail because of the improvements that would be needed to make it up to code. Prior to opening, we had a small retail space in our manufacturing location. We joke now that that space would fit in our two display windows.”

Home décor ideas for the fall are abundant.

When it was time to choose a name for the store, they decided to incorporate the name of the product they invented and man­ufacture — the LastingLite Electric Candle. “Since we wanted to showcase our product, we decided to include the name of the product and then call it an emporium since we were going to offer many other products,” Jennifer said.

Retail was new to them. She said they had conversations with their customers for advice and ideas for items to sell in the store.

“Together we pressed on and learned along the way,” Jennifer said. “COVID-19 was also a challenge for us. We saw that a shutdown was coming, so we quickly put together a website and had it working by the time we had to close. Our retail manager would ship or deliver packages to our local customers during the five weeks that we had to be shut down.”

What They Sell

The LastingLite Emporium specializes in seasonal home décor and gifts. “We offer arti­ficial florals, home décor, children/baby, candles, kitchen, pantry, and a few boutique items,” Jennifer said.

The product categories they choose for their gift shop are based on the dis­tinct types of LastingLite candles they have. “Since we make candles for the kitchen, we wanted kitchen items to sell with that display and so forth,” she said. “We’ve changed a few things based on what our customers are interested in.”

Their LastingLite candles are their No. 1 seller, with the bereavement line selling the most. “We sell on average about two bereavement candle sets per day,” Jennifer said. “Our other top sellers are our home décor and artificial florals. Fort Wayne has a chocolatier, and we offer their chocolates in our store. Since Fort Wayne is an hour away, people like the convenience of shopping local.”

The LastingLite Emporium has an online store and offers in-store pickup or shipping. They have shipped products to 46 states.

The gift shop’s typical customers are women aged 35-plus. What do customers say about the store? One person’s comment on a Facebook post was, “Your store is so appreciated, along with the kindness of the clerks.”

The gift shop has products for the kitchen.
The store provides inspiration for Easter and spring.
A fairy bird feeder is ready for the spring and summer seasons.
Boutique items are available at the gift shop.
Gift ideas for children are offered

Customer Service, Connections

The LastingLite Emporium offers customers a rewards card. Customers get a stamp on the card for every $20 they spend.

“When their card is full ($240), they can use it to get 25% off any one in-stock item,” Jennifer said. “The cards don’t expire, so our customers love to hold on to them and spend them when they want to.”

When asked what sets their customer service apart from other stores in their area, she said, “We engage with every customer who enters our store, welcoming them in. Our staff is friendly, personable, and have good conversation skills.” Many people appre­ciate that Jennifer knows them by name.

She said what makes The LastingLite Emporium different from other stores in its community is the large variety of different home décor and quality florals it offers that are hard to find nearby. There are several things that make the gift shop successful. “We work on creating an overall positive shopping experience — from the smell to the lighting, to the sounds, the displays, and the customer service,” Jennifer said.

They participate in events they hold with other downtown businesses. “Most of these events are fundraisers for our downtown beautification,” she said. “We have a Cookie Crawl in the spring and a Chocolate Walk in the fall. Together we also have other sales/shopping events throughout the year.”

She said their Instagram stories seem to be the gift shop’s most effective marketing strategy. In fact, people often tell Jennifer they love watching her and seeing what is in the store.

The LastingLite Emporium connects with the community. “We give donations to local benefits helping families in need, we participate in local events, and we advertise in our local paper and radio,” she said.

When asked what she likes best about what she does, Jennifer said, “Meeting and talking with our customers and helping to create beautiful spaces within their homes.” Her advice to those who have recently opened a store is, “You can’t be everything to everyone. Find your customers and serve them well.”

She said, “Step out in faith when you feel that this is what you are supposed to do. You have to buy with confidence, with enough products to fill your store, and be willing to try new things. Appreciate your staff, do kind gestures for them. Your store is only as good as your customer service.”

Facts at a Glance

Business Name: The LastingLite Emporium
Location: 113 West Main Street, Berne, IN 46711
Website: lastingliteemporium.com
Email: info@lastingliteemporium.com
Phone: 260-589-5924
Employees: 5
Size: 3,000 sq. ft.
Trade Show Attended: Atlanta
Product Categories: Home décor and gifts
Social Media: @lastinglites for Instagram and Facebook
POS System: Fishbowl (works with their retail and wholesale)