COZAD — Sweetwater Outfitters may not be exactly where it was the last time you saw it. Due to developments with the old Allen Opera House, the latest western apparel and clothing store has shifted to a new location, but it is not far from the old location at all.
Chelsie Michalewicz, the proprietor, was the runner up in the Pitch it Cozad competition held by the Cozad Development Corporation last year to attract a new businesses to Cozad.
The CDC didn’t want to lose Michalewicz and her business idea and had offered her a space in the old Allen’s Opera House at 104 E. 8th St. Over the summer of 2018 she and her family had worked to get the space ready and held a soft opening just before the Christmas holiday.
Then, in early spring of this year, there was a development with the old opera house. The CDC had secured a grant to renovate the historic building into a movie theatre. The catch was, the space which Sweetwater Outfitters occupied was going to be needed for the future movie theater.
The CDC looked for space which could fit the growing apparel store. Michalewicz said her business was quickly filling up her old location. As luck would have it, a space on the same street, on the other side of Mode Boutique was open.
“It was a quick and easy move down the street,” Michalewicz said, “We have met lots of friendly people, we didn’t have any reason to move to a different town.”
Michalewicz said there was a great deal of public support for her to remain in Cozad, much of it coming from social media. Even Cozad’s mayor, Marcus Kloepping, expressed his gratitude Sweetwater was remaining in the community.
Improvements to the new location at 110 E. 8th St. took roughly a month for Michalewicz and her father to complete. After this all which was left was to move her inventory. Over the course of her week, with family help, nearly the entire inventory has been moved over to the larger location.
Michalewicz said she likes the new space as it gives her more opportunities to grow, larger space in the back can accommodate future expansion if her business requires it.
Staying near Main Street in the downtown area was an important consideration of Michalewicz. She is not far from her old location, which she also sees as a plus.
One thing Michalewicz wants people to know about her business is it’s not just western apparel which can be found on the shelves. She said she carries a little something for everyone, from women’s dress, to T-shirts, shoes etc.
Western apparel still is a cornerstone of her business and Sweetwater offers cowboy hats, work gloves, work socks and of course, cowboy boots.
For those who haven’t stopped into the store, Michalwicz, is originally from Kearney and grew up there. She moved to South Dakota and lived there for six years, attending high school in Custer, S.D.
She then returned to Nebraska and attended Central Community College in Hastings and graduated in 2016 with a degree in agricultural business. She currently resides in Lexington.