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The Corner Nook Nicole Mackin & Cassandra Himmelberg, Owners

The Corner Nook's Blue Hill location was established in 2015. In June 2020, Cassandra and Nicole opened their Red Cloud location at 345 N. Webster St. The Corner Nook is a coffee shop that also has a huge variety of handmade and boutique type gifts to purchase! They offer hot drinks (regular coffee, mochas, lattes, steamers and more) and cold drinks (smoothies and a variety of frozen and iced drinks). Cassandra and Nicole invite you to bring some friends and chat, shop while you sip, or even bring your kids with you when you visit their store. They also welcome anyone who wants to read, do homework, or even craft--there's lots of table space!

Nicole Mackin and Cassandra Himmelberg are co-owners of The Corner Nook. Nicole lives in Blue Hill with her husband and two daughters. Prior to opening The Corner Nook she worked in management at the Champions Sports and Recreation Complex (then to become the Hastings YMCA). She currently works/manages The Corner Nook locations full time. Cassandra lives on a farm in Lawrence, NE with her husband and one son and one daughter. Besides co-owning and managing The Corner Nook, Cassandra is also a full time Occupational Therapist and works in multiple area schools.

What is your favorite thing about Red Cloud?

We love the historic, quaint feel of the town and the very friendly community. Small towns hold a special place in our hearts and our passion is to help keep these small communities alive by not only providing a new business, but also by providing a place for the community to visit and enjoy (as well as out of town visitors!)

You guys started the Corner Nook in 2015 in Blue Hill and still have a store there. What gave you confidence to take a chance on opening a Red Cloud location?

After 5 years of business in Blue Hill, we felt as though our business model worked. Small towns can be a bit tricky when it comes to getting the traffic needed to be successful and we felt as though we had found the formula that worked (well, pre-pandemic…that has thrown us a bit of a hardball). Outside of figuring out the exact parameters of our business (what kind of drinks, what kind of retail, etc), we knew that if we continued with our consistent hours and ability to be flexible with special events in the community, that we could be as successful in Red Cloud as we are in Blue Hill.

Small towns hold a special place in our hearts and our passion is to help keep these small communities alive by not only providing a new business, but also by providing a place for the community to visit and enjoy (as well as out of town visitors!)

What are some of your favorite businesses to shop at in Red Cloud? Why?

We have really enjoyed getting to know other business owners and feel like we have many more to get to know. We do a lot of business with Hometown Market--they have been amazing at helping us navigate the unknowns in product ordering for this new venture. We have already collaborated with On The Brix and Fat Fox’s to do some events together and enjoy them both personally as well. It is also safe to say Subway has fed us quite a bit, we always enjoy seeing their friendly faces.

Is there anything you wish people knew about The Corner Nook?

Ironically, The Corner Nook came to be because of 3 business owners actually contemplating closing their individual businesses for good (for a variety of reasons). When it came down to the decision to either close for good OR to combine efforts and create something new, we chose the latter. The retail/handmade crafts aspect of the business originated as Craft Corner (Nicole’s business) and the coffee aspect of the business was Heavenly Grounds (Cassandra’s business). After combining the two businesses, we then added in some more wholesale and boutique items to fill in some missing areas as our goal was to be a place for people to find unique gifts for any occasion. About half of our retail we offer at both locations is handmade goods that we have consigned with folks from multiple local communities, providing them a place to sell their goods.

Customers enjoying themselves in The Corner Nook's downtown Red Cloud location
About half of our retail we offer at both locations is handmade goods that we have consigned with folks from multiple local communities, providing them a place to sell their goods.

You guys opened your Red Cloud location in the middle of a pandemic and without the usual amount of tourist activity in the community. How have you adjusted to this unusual year?

This was definitely a complication and the pandemic has been a source of lost business for sure. We allowed ourselves to ‘feel out’ what traffic would look like for the first couple months and created our game plan, knowing it could and would probably change as things either improved or got worse. While it is hard to run a business this way, we have had to take it week by week (some weeks day by day) and just do our best to be consistent in our hours and service. Thankfully, our coffee business is easy to transition into a ‘to-go’ situation, but our most income lost has come from lost retail sales and cancellations of events.

If you could have a superpower what would it be and why?

To wave a magic wand and make the pandemic go away! Aside from that, to be 2 places at once. Both of us like to be behind the counter, interacting with members of the community, but now with two locations, our focus is to find the best staff that will do that when we are unable to be there.

Interior shot of The Corner Nook's downtown Red Cloud store. The business is located in the form Taylor's Drugstore

Do you have any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?

Nicole loves to read and participates in a book club once a month. She also has enjoyed memory keeping/scrapbooking since she was in high school. She occasionally scrapbooks for others as a side gig, has been on design teams for companies in the scrapbooking industry, and is an occasional guest on a scrapbooking podcast called The Scrap Gals.

Cassandra loves spending time with her family going camping, fishing, and golfing. Most of her free time is getting her daughter to all her dance classes or her rodeos for rodeo queen appearances. She loves all sport activities and coaches Junior High Girls Basketball at Blue Hill School. She also enjoys watching her son compete in track at the collegiate level.

Do you have any pets?

Nicole has a sweet (and kinda naughty) dog named Annie, a cat named Rosie, and an adopted neighborhood orange cat that has been appropriately named ‘Orangie.’

Cassandra is an avid animal lover! She has 3 dogs: Bella, Jeter, and Cinch, 7 cats: Jewel, Noel, Callie, Daisy, Lillie, Gigi and Poppy, 1 Lama: Leonard, 3 horses: Zipster, Fritz, and Tilley, 2 turkeys: Tom and Tina, and lots of guineas and goats.

Cassie with her family

The Corner Nook makes specialty drinks in addition to coffee. What are your favorite drinks that you sell?

The funny part about the fact that Cassandra started the original coffee shop is that she actually does not like coffee! Cassandra enjoys Chai while Nicole mostly drinks lattes and mochas. We have specialty seasonal chais, mochas, and lattes that change each month and that makes it fun for customers to try something new on a regular basis.

What would your high school teachers or guidance counselor say about you if we asked?

That Nicole was very responsible and acted older than her age; that Cassandra was very goal driven and not afraid of a challenge.

What are you most proud of?

Nicole: First and foremost my daughters. It is amazing to watch them grow, although that is happening way too fast. I am also proud of this business Cassie and I have built. Anyone who has started a business understands the amount of blood, sweat and tears it takes to imagine, create and manage a business. Time away from family, lots of risk, financially and otherwise….but all great things take time and we have stuck with it through thick and thin!

Cassandra: I am so proud of my 2 children J.C. and Jaelyn. God has truly blessed me with two amazing children. I am also proud of my Occupational Therapy degree which has led me to meet some amazing people and challenges over the past 24 years. And of course, the amazing business I share with one of my best friends. Hard work and faith truly pays off.

Do you have a mantra or mission statement you live by?

Nicole: God first and everything else comes into place.

Cassandra: Live and walk by Faith not by fear. Our family verse is Jeremiah 29:11- knowing God has a plan to always bless us!

Check out the video above to see The Corner Nook featured in a video about Heritage Tourism Development and other Red Cloud Community Fund projects!

[Nicole] occasionally scrapbooks for others as a side gig, has been on design teams for companies in the scrapbooking industry, and is an occasional guest on a scrapbooking podcast called The Scrap Gals.

What is your favorite song and/or recording artist?

Nicole: This is a tough one…I would have to say "Build Your Kingdom Here," by Rend Collective

Cassie: "God Only Knows," by King and Country

What is your dream vacation?

Nicole: I would love to go to both England and Ireland, where many of me and my husband’s ancestors came from. Ancestry is also a passion of mine (very much connected to my scrapbooking/memory keeping hobby) and I would love to visit those 2 countries and see where they lived.

Cassandra: to spend the entire summer camping, fishing, and boating at the lake with my kids and parents; and of course my dogs and cats!!

Nicole with her family

What’s your favorite place to visit in Nebraska?

Nicole: I love to go to Omaha with the family and enjoy the ‘big city’ lifestyle for a short amount of time. We also really love the Henry Doorley Zoo, it is one of our favorite places to go as a family.

Cassandra: rodeos all over the state during the summer months. It’s exciting to visit so many different small communities and meet so many people.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life? Explain why.

Nicole: I’m choosing 2-both of my parents. They both taught me so much about doing the right thing, working hard, and helping people out without question. Sadly they are both gone, but their legacy lives through me and my girls. Every day I hope we do them proud!

Cassandra: My parents. They have always been my biggest supporters in life. They taught me so much about hard work ethic and to always do your best. They helped guide me in my faith with the Lord and the wonderful family values I am able to pass on to my children.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

We are extremely grateful for the amazing support that has been shown to us by this community. We are more than ready to experience Red Cloud and Willa Cather events in full (minus the pandemic) and look forward to continuing to meet members of this really neat community.

Want to support The Corner Nook but can't visit because of the pandemic? You can still support their business by giving them a call and ordering a gift card online!

Credits:

Nebraska Community Foundation--Brian Kriekemeier