‘I’ve been very fortunate here’: Twice is Nice owner Sandra Bell celebrates 17 years in business

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

If you’ve gone into Twice is Nice in Downtown Austin, across Main Street from the Spam Museum, chances are you’ve run into Sandra Bell. Now in her 17th year of owning Twice is Nice, Bell has been an available source for those seeking clothing, home décor and antiques.

But the Mower County native didn’t start in retail. She used to work at Hormel Foods and was a stay-at-home mom before her best friend opened Twice is Nice in the basement of the now closed Nemitz’s.

“I always loved fashion and antiques and home décor, so I wanted to work for her,” Bell said. “It was a smaller location and she didn’t have as many gifts.”

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Bell enjoyed the job, prompting her to make a bold decision when her friend was ready to move on.

“She was ready to sell and I decided I wanted to continue in it because I really loved it,” she said.

When Bell purchased the store, it was located where Vintage Vixen is today.

“We moved three times when she owned it, so when this (location) came up for sale 15 years ago, I bought it,” she said.

At the time, Main Street looked quite different from what it does today.

“All of the buildings were pretty much empty,” Bell recalled. “This wasn’t the only building for sale; there were a lot of them. It’s amazing to see how much it’s grown and thrived. In the very beginning, it was a hard time for people.”

Despite the difficulty, Bell kept Twice is Nice going, creating the three-story store it is today. The opening of the Spam Museum across the street has only contributed to her success.

“It’s been nice having that extra energy downtown,” Bell said. “One of the best things they could have done was to put that Spam Museum downtown to revitalize our downtown. Before, we had a hole there that was an eyesore.”

When asked if she believed Downtown Austin is growing, Bell’s answer was an emphatic “yes.”

“We don’t have any empty buildings anymore; we are full,” she said. “In 17 years, that’s the most I’ve ever seen it. Our downtown is full, and we hear from our customers that Austin is awesome with the downtown and Main Street and the flowers. Everybody’s really impressed.”

But like many businesses, Twice is Nice finds itself competing with online shopping. This is one of the reasons that Bell is a supporter of the “Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin” initiative.

“I think before someone pushes a button on the Internet, (Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin) makes them think twice,” she said. “I hope it does because we need to keep money in the county and be proud of our city so we can grow as a community. The downtown is the heartbeat of a city.”

The Spam Museum and “Eat. Drink. Shop. Austin” aside, Bell also credits a solid business model and local support for her continued success.

“I think it’s having the combination of all three (clothes, home décor and antiques) that really works,” she said. “That’s how women and men shop; we buy some clothes, we buy some home décor, we buy some antiques, and I really think that fits in everybody’s home. I’ve been very fortunate here. I’ve had a lot of local supporters that follow me. When they come home to visit their parents, they come to visit us. I think being here 17 years, we’ve really established a following. Everybody loves the different variety we have to offer in the store.”

Twice is Nice is located at 417 N Main St. in Downtown Austin. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. They can be reached at 507-433-5353.

“I want to thank all of our customers and the community for all of these years,” Bell said. “When I tell people we’ve been in business this long, it’s kind of unheard of these days. I want to thank everybody for loving our store and supporting us.”

Twice is Nice 17th Anniversary

Twice is Nice is celebrating its 17th anniversary on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2. The event will feature hourly drawings, gourmet food, cider and coffee and unbelievable deals.

For more information, call 507-433-5353.