For Keeps celebrates 25 years

Amy Craft Aherns has retail in her blood.

The Bowling Green businesswoman is celebrating 25 years of her business, For Keeps.

Her family, including dad Floyd Craft, opened the Ben Franklin store, which is just a couple doors down from For Keeps, in 1976.

“I’ve worked in the stores since the time I was 9,” Craft Aherns said.

Floyd Craft had worked for W.T. Grants, which was an early big-box store. When it went out of business in 1975, he opened the Ben Franklin store.

“My dad decided to take a chance and open his own business,” she said. “He loved Bowling Green. He felt … there was a great mix between the university and the city.

“He thought this would be a great place to open a business and, of course, we came along for the ride.”

Craft Aherns attended Bowling Green State University and went abroad to the University of Salzburg in Austria. After graduation, she taught English and German in Japan.

“When I got back, I fell into retail because it was what I knew,” she said.

She moved to Chicago and worked for Natural Wonders, which is nature and science gifts.

“I really enjoyed it and decided that was the direction I wanted to go,” Craft Aherns said.

In 1996, Floyd Craft purchased the building that For Keeps is in, and started talking about using it to expand his Ace Hardware store.

“He’s telling me about this beautiful, original tin ceiling and balcony, and I’m like ‘no, don’t do hardware, let’s open a gift store,’” Craft Aherns said. “He said “I don’t know anything about gifts, you have to come back and run it.’ And that’s what happened.”

When For Keeps opened, it was more of a collectibles store.

“We have changed a lot since then,” Craft Aherns said. “We do a lot of fashion. We do a lot of jewelry.”

Being a good business person means evolving with the trends and listening to your customers, she said.

(Sentinel-Tribune multi-media journalist J.D. Pooley did the interview for this story.)

Tent Party

For Keeps customers are invited to the tent party on Saturday from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. in the parking lot behind For Keeps. Join in the fun with raffle prizes, treats and refreshments, activities, a fun social atmosphere, live music and the chance to unlock the big prize box.