Sarah Dankhoff stand outside the storefront that she transformed into Wildfire Home & Gift at 226 High St. in Hamilton. Dankhoff said she aims to bring products into the shop that feel special, items you can t find just anywhere. CONTRIBUTED

New store owner: ‘Magical’ High Street reason for opening in Hamilton

Sarah Dankhoff opened Wildfire Home & Gift at 226 High St. last month, aiming to bring products into the shop that feel special, “items you can’t find just anywhere.”

That includes starting off with jewelry, most made by local or U.S. artisans, inspirational goods like leather-bound notebooks, and handmade prints, candles and locally-made bath bombs.

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While there are many shops in the home and gift category in Hamilton, Dankhoff said Wildfire is unique with its “bohemian-vibe and inspirational merchandise.”

“The uniqueness of the shop adds to Hamilton rather than competes with what is already here,” she said.

Logistically, opening the store did not present many challenges, but her biggest one was working through the fear she felt.

“Now that I have been open for a month, my biggest challenge has been keeping inventory stocked, which is a good problem to have,” she said. “To keep up, I have already had to expand my inventory to double what I opened with.”

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The best part about opening in Hamilton is, “by a long shot,” the community, Dankhoff said.

“I have the best business neighbors who have supported me from the start,” she said. “There is a great sense of community amongst Hamilton’s downtown businesses. I also have loved getting to know each person who comes through the doors. Those who live and work in Hamilton have been very welcoming.”

Dankhoff said she dreamed of owning my own business for years, one that seemed “far-fetched” and unlikely to occur so soon. It wasn’t even on her radar when her husband, on a vacation in June, told her pointblank “You want to open a store, so go home and do it.”

“That was all the push I needed,” she said. “Wildfire opened exactly two months after that conversation.”

So why Hamilton, as opposed to any other community?

“I love the renaissance going on in Hamilton,” Dankhoff said. ” I may be biased, but I think Hamilton is the place to open a retail business. There is a great sense of community between both Hamilton businesses and Hamilton residents. You can’t find that everywhere. Everyone wants each other to succeed, and I think that has been a strong force in pushing the city forward.”

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Choosing the High Street storefront “just felt right,” Dankhoff said.

“I know many businesses choose their location based off factors like traffic patterns and other data,” she said. “For me, High Street feels magical.”

There’s meaning behind the storefront’s name, Dankhoff said.

“We grow even stronger after ‘wildfire’ hits our life because we are nurtured from the ashes of our own past,” she said. “That is my story and Hamilton’s story parallels that.”

The opening of Spooky Nook wasn’t the deciding factor on opening Wildfire in Hamilton, but it was a factor in her decision to open now.

“Without Spooky Nook’s opening coming soon, I could have talked myself out of opening Wildfire in 2019, but I knew I needed to do it now,” she said. “I am the sole owner of the shop, so I knew if I wanted to open a shop downtown, I had to get in before it was no longer financially feasible to do it solo.”

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Dankhoff said she hears many people say Hamilton is “up and coming” because of Spooky Nook’s 2021 opening, but she believes the city has already arrived.

“It’s simply a matter of surrounding communities and beyond realizing the magic that is already happening in Hamilton.”

Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday with plans to extend hours as the holidays get closer.

To mark the store’s grand opening celebration, which is scheduled for 11.a.m. Sept. 21, Wildfire is giving away any necklace-and-earrings combo of one’s choosing. For details, visit www.facebook.com/wildfirehamilton or www.instagram.com/wildfirehamilton. The winner will be announced this Saturday.

For more information, call 513-460-6346.

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