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Northland gift store for sale in Sterling

STERLING – Another change might be coming to the Northland Mall lineup.

Margaret Zumdahl, cheery owner of the packed and popular Accents gift store, is retiring early next year.

That means her beloved shop, which she opened in 1999, is up for sale. If she can’t find a buyer, she’ll have to close the business – at a time when things are starting to pick up again.

“I am totally going to miss it,” Zumdahl said. “It’s not even like work for me.”

She and her husband, longtime local attorney Mark Zumdahl, who will retire at the end of next year, plan to hit the road and spend time with their children and three granddaughters, ages 2 to 6, she said. One of the little ones is in North Carolina; the two others are a bit closer, in the Chicago area.

Accents sells a little bit of everything: jewelry, purses, scarves, baby items, kitchen gadgets, home and garden décor, greeting cards, seasonal items. ... Talk about sensory overload: Every nook and cranny is filled with color, sparkle and shine. It even smells good.

Filling those shelves and watching them empty is a job Zumdahl has loved, she said, especially because of her clientele: People buy gifts for happy occasions, which makes them happy shoppers, and “the people who shop with me are just super,” she said.

“We have some really loyal community people that support us, from Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon, even Clinton, Iowa” and the smaller communities in the area, she said.

Best of all, business seems to be bouncing back from the recent recession.

“I’m kind of feeling, since the first of the year, that the community is buzzing a little more,” she said.

Zumdahl started Accents 15 years ago, up the road in Burton Plaza, and moved to the mall 5 years later.

It’s been a good spot, she said, and it’s getting better.

“I think it’s a good place to be right now,” said Zumdahl, who has a sales staff of five workers, plus herself. “There’s not much competition, at least for what I have, and they’re bringing in that huge big sporting goods store,” which will attract a lot of shoppers, she said.

That’s Dunham’s Sports, a national sporting goods chain that will take up 35,000 square feet of mall space when it opens in late summer or early fall, kitty-corner across from Accents. A large “coming soon” sign now hangs in front of that space.

Hibbett Sporting Goods, which opened a store in the Walmart Supercenter plaza in Dixon in September, closed its Northland store in February, as did Kirlin’s Hallmark. Shoe Sensation has since moved to a different spot to help make way for Dunham’s.

Rue 21, which sells clothing and accessories geared toward teens and young adults, plans to open around the end of the summer, in Hallmark’s spot.

Karyn Brouilette, general manager of Northland Mall, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Check it out

Accents is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Call 815-625-1999 for more information.

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