By Michelle Leidy-Franklin
CHENEY – When Diane Paneiko decided to close The Wish List gift shop after more than 15 years in business, Kasi Henning saw an opportunity to take a shot at opening her own retail business.
Henning opened The Rustic Hen on July 15, offering handmade crafts, home decor and gifts from local artists.
“We want to be somewhere people can go to find unique gifts and pieces for their home,” said Henning. “We wanted to give crafters a brick and mortal store where they could display their products and not just on Etsy and the like.”
Henning has worked as a nurse for the last 20 years and also was trained in massage therapy. She began renting space in The Wish List in June 2020 to offer massages to those in her hometown. Soon, Paneiko began chatting with Henning about leasing the entire building at the end of 2020.
“My husband and I discussed it and we decided ownership was the way to go for us,” said Henning. “It’s been one of our dreams to own our own store.”
After purchasing the building, Henning set to work remodeling her new space. She took down the old counter to make room for more vendors. Carpets were pulled up to reveal century-old hardwood floors that have now been refinished. The drop ceiling was removed, and Henning found the original tin tile still mostly intact.
“We did have one large area that needed patching. My husband pulled ceiling tiles from the back room and patched the front. We had to put several layers of paint on it, but I think it turned out beautiful,” she said.
Henning had the help of friends and family getting the store up and running. She credits her husband, Dominic, for the remodel work. Her daughter and others have helped at the front counter while she continues to offer massages.
Hennning said this is her first experience in a retail environment. She is confident that, with the support of friends, family, and the community, she will figure it out. She has made many connections within the community to bring in local products. She said she always has room for more.
“When people are looking for a gift, I want them to think of us and say, ‘I wonder what’s new? I wonder what The Rustic Hen has today?’” said Henning.
The Rustic Hen is open Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-2p.m. The store is located at 115 N. Main in Cheney.