December 10, 2023

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Della Stevens exhibits some of the banana bread she makes for her store in Mitchell. Stevens sells homemade baked goods, soap, lotion, artwork and more at Work of Joy, which opened in August.
MITCHELL — Della Stevens wanted to open a Christian coffee shop. However, she couldn’t find a place with a kitchen that would meet her needs.
Instead, Stevens started selling homemade goods out of 1368 Center Ave. in Mitchell, which she called Work of Joy. Since the store opened in early August, she’s sold a variety of products and even made some friends along the way.
“Nowadays, when I make major decisions, I really try to pray about it and get guidance, and I felt like this is the place where I’m supposed to be,” she said.
Stevens used her middle name for the store, and most of what she sells are, therefore, literal works of Joy. The pastries and baked goods she offers, including banana bread, fudge, carrot cake and crackers, are all homemade.
She also sells homemade soaps, candles, lotions and lip gloss as well as her own paintings and photography.
“I am retired, and I was a little bit bored sitting at home, so at least this way … I can actually sell the products I make,” she said, adding, “Things have been going OK here for a brand-new business.”
This isn’t the first time Stevens has owned a store. She previously operated a souvenir shop and restaurant with her husband, Craig, in southern Colorado.
When the couple moved to Nebraska, she took the lessons she’d learned from operating that business, such as focusing on baked goods, and applied them to Work of Joy. She’s even incorporated the coffee aspect by offering different blends.
Mitchell is “a really cute little town,” Stevens said. “Things are starting to pop up.”
She said she focuses on having good customer service, products and atmosphere in any store she runs.
She received the lease at the end of July and within a fortnight began selling items. She held a grand opening during the Old West Balloon Fest craft fair Aug. 13.
Work of Joy is open from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
Stevens started selling the accumulating products she’d made at home, including shelves of soap. She had tried to sell some of it at the Mitchell market she’d organized, but she found a store was a better option.
“I love to educate myself on things. … Anytime I want to learn something, I sit down and watch all these YouTube videos and do a lot of Googling,” she said.
She said it took a while to master her soaps in particular before she began selling them.
Not everything at the store is made by her. Three of her friends sell a selection of their own items at the shop. Karen Wertelka makes honey and vanilla. Amy Bomgardner offers cups and earrings. Stacia Smith sells jams and jellies.
Stevens doesn’t plan to expand the store aside from her recent additions of tables where customers can sit and drink coffee. Work of Joy is a small store, but she said it’s a good size for her to run by herself.
“It’s just a little place, but it’s all that I need,” she said.
Marah’s Treasures is at 304 Broadway St. in Taylor in Loup County. The shop carries gift items and fragrances, plus life-sized plywood figures made to order, and is open Thursday and Friday afternoons.
The Most Unlikely Place, 205 Main St. in Lewellen, is just a short drive from Lake McConaughy and is open Wednesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It closes for the season from mid-November to mid-March.
The combination bistro/gallery serves breakfast and lunch as well as offering a wide variety of fine art. Sculptures, jewelry, paintings and more are available.
The Fort Cody Trading Post, 221 Halligan Drive in North Platte, has a variety of merchandise. The store is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “We have one of the best selection of western books anywhere, handmade Native American jewelry and arts, T-shirts, toys, Minnetonka Moccasins, retro soda pop, candy, hot sauces, cook books, Nebraska-made items and food, stuffed animals, souvenirs, cards and much, much more,” the store’s Facebook page boasts.
Marshall Custom Hats, 214 Staples St., in Arthur features handmade hats made by James Marshall. “It’s amazing that about 42 percent of my customers are repeat customers,” Marshall told Tri-State Livestock News last year. “Once I get them in once, they’re usually back for another one.”
Hollywood Candy is in Omaha’s Old Market at 1209 Jackson St. The store specializes in “hard-to-find retro and nostalgic candies of the past” and has modern-era candy as well. It has a large collection of PEZ dispensers and retro toys and novelties. 
The Brown Sheep Co. Mill Store, located at 100662 County Road 16 in Mitchell, is attached to the mill and sells the company’s yarn “seconds” and other crocheting/knitting supplies. The company’s yarn is known and sold worldwide. One benefit of the mill store is “seeing all the wonderful handpaints that our handpainter tries out when developing new color ways.  Because these hanks are one of a kind and generally not reproduced, they are not offered to our retail customers for purchase,” according to the company’s website.
The Cottage Inspirations shop in Cambridge, 710 Nasby St., features quilting supplies as well as home decor items, including antique furniture, Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and McCall’s Country Candles. The shop is owned by mother and daughter Melody Brown and Samantha Jones.
The Antiquarium and Bill Farmer Gallery, 309 Water St., is in Brownville and sells used, rare and out-of-print books. The store offers some 150,000 titles and is housed in a remodeled former grade school. It specializes in foreign language books, cinema titles and fiction. The store began to 1969 in Omaha, moving to Brownville in 2008.
Master’s Hand Candle Co. in Tekamah, 3599 County Road F, has more than candles — delectable chocolates, flowers, home decor, shopping, gifts, jewelry, purses and diva wear. The shop’s website declares it “every woman’s dream store.” The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The North Platte Art and Gift Gallery, 516 N. Dewey, is open Tuesday through Saturday and has local contemporary art in a variety of mediums. The enterprise began in 1987 when a group of local artists rented a vintage downtown storefront. One of the five galleries hosts monthly competitive art shows.
Park Avenue Antiques, 515 N. Park Ave. in Fremont, has furniture, dishes, linens, home decor and books, as well as a multitude of signs. The shop is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Its website describes The Keeping Room as “a fusion of stylish antiques, unique holiday and home decor, unique fashion, food and drink and a friendly atmosphere.” The Nebraska City store is at 717 Central Ave. and is open Monday-Wednesday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday-Saturday 10-7 and Sunday 1-4 p.m.
Yesterday’s Lady, 113 N. Fifth St. in Beatrice, features vintage fashion in the restored 1887 Schmuck building. Proprietor Susan McLain has clothing from the 1800s to the 1960s.
Suite Child Aqua at 2304 Central Ave. in downtown Kearney has the latest baby and toddler fashions as well as helpful products for families with new babies. There is also a store in Elkhorn.
Tammy and Randy Obermier own York Boot ‘N Repair on the east side of the town square for 100 years. The business is a full-service leather repair store that also builds custom orthotics and sells boots and shoes.
Platte River Outdoors in Loup City sells a variety of hunting, fishing and archery gear and accessories. The store is open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Della Stevens exhibits some of the banana bread she makes for her store in Mitchell. Stevens sells homemade baked goods, soap, lotion, artwork and more at Work of Joy, which opened in August.
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