Frankfort, Ind. - Frankfort is called the Gem City because it’s said you could see Frankfort shine from miles away on the prairie in the new electric era.
And there are certainly some gems there today!
The Pence brothers wouldn’t believe their eyes today. After all, they settled in Frankfort in 1829 and the first courthouse cost $20 and was made from trees that grew on the square.
More than 16,000 people live in Frankfort today.
“Small towns are up and coming once again, especially the downtown squares,” said Heather Wright.
Wright always knew she wanted to own her own business.
“When I was at Purdue in the dorms, I saw a lot of girls walking around carrying flower arrangements so I thought that would be an easy blow off class!” said Wright “So I decided to take a horticulture class where you got to design arrangements.”
And she fell in love with the art of flower arranging.
She worked part-time at a flower shop and when Wright was graduating college, the flower shop owner was ready to sell.
Heather’s Flowers opened on the downtown Frankfort square in 1998. Wright is originally from nearby Rossville.
“It seems like everybody knows everybody and once you’ve been established and people know your work, it’s easy for them to just call and leave it up to us.”
From weddings to funerals, Wright’s customers trust her with the most important occasions of their lives.
“My customers mean everything to me. Being in a small town, if you do a great job, they’re going to give the word of mouth for the best advertisement.”
“If you go straight to a local florist, you’re going to make sure you get exactly what you’re paying for. There’s not any hidden fees and it means everything to the florist. Their reputation is on the line so they’re going to do everything to make you happy when you talk to them personally.”
Heather’s Flowers will deliver anywhere in Clinton County and will do weddings anywhere in the state.
Another place finding big success in the small town is Shoup’s Country Foods.
Shoup’s got its start in 1978 when Cindy Shoup Cacy’s parents bought a meat processing plant.
“I’m really proud of our dad,” she said. “He’s now passed, but he was the original person, the inventor, of the pork burger here in Indiana and it has grown to be all over the state and even a nationwide sensation!”
You know how family businesses can go, but this family business just keeps going.
“Family businesses can be tough, but we are so lucky we have a really strong family. We are all really close. Even though we work together, we’ll spend Sunday dinner together.”
And they are behind the Sunday dinners for many Hoosiers!
“The pulled pork barbecue would be one of our most popular products.”
So are the Mini Hog Roast, seasonings and sauces.
Everything is as local as possible and shipped nationwide.
“You can’t be afraid of change. You can’t be stagnant. You have to keep reinventing yourself. You have to have your eye on the big picture. What do you want to grow into?”
One of the family’s biggest accomplishments is being featured at the Super Bowl in Indianapolis and being invited to every Super Bowl ever since.
But home really is where the heart is for the Shoup family.
“Oh I love being here in Frankfort. The people here are great and friendly and no matter what we do, they are so supportive and they always have our back. They just always cheer us on so that makes it a little easier for us to go and do what we need to do.”
Shoup’s keeps growing. They are now one of the largest caterers in central Indiana.
“I see a great future for here at Shoup’s. We’re excited about our future. We’re getting ready for a big remodel. I would like to apologize, we’re in the middle of remodeling, but hey, it’s going on to bigger and better things. We’re going to have a great new storefront and a new sign.”
“We never want to be satisfied with where we are, so we strive to be our best with everything we can. We are sticklers for quality. If it’s not the best, we don’t want any part of it. And I think that’s probably part of our longevity, is that we really believe in quality products and the heritage of this area. We want to push that forward to the next generations.”
Shoup’s is open Tuesday through Saturday and you can also order online here.
The Frankfort High School gymnasium, known as Case Arena, is another gem in the town. It's where the movie Blue Chips, featuring Nick Nolte and Shaquille O'Neal, was filmed in 1994.
Watch Lindy Thackston interview Athletic Director Ed Niehaus about the unique history of the gym and its namesake: