TORRINGTON – M.K. Soni said, “Retire from work, but not from life.” That’s exactly what Allen and Deb Hunter are planning to do. What started as just three tiny clothes racks out front, has flourished into 18 years of stitch work and friendships. The Hunter’s are handing over the keys of Heartland Embroidery July 3. While it has all happened so fast, Deb and Allen Hunter are still smiling.
Smiling – that’s exactly what you would have seen in the last 18 years if you walked through the doors of Heartland Embroidery on Main Street in Torrington. A friendly face and an attitude of wanting their customers to become their friends is what the Hunter’s have done year round.
“People would just come in here, two days before Christmas with a dozen or 18 Christmas stockings they would need embroidered,” Deb Hunter said with enthusiasm, “and we would get them done . . . because that is the kind of business we ran. We wanted to make all of our customers happy, and we did.
“And you know, it’s really going to be no different with these new people coming in They’re all four local people (Ty and Kelly Correll and Kyle and Lisa Rafferty). They love it. They’re hearts in Torrington. They’re hearts in Goshen County.”
If you visit with Deb and Allen, it’s clear they feel that they are handing the business over to good people. But, that does not go without saying that there will be things Allen and Deb will miss.
“I’m going to miss the people because I’m a real people person, and they’ve all become my friends,” Deb said a little tender heartily, as she looked around the back room of Heartland. “We’ll miss not being a part of downtown Torrington and, we’ve been business owners and building owners for 18 years, but now the new owners will take it over and it’ll be good too.”
For Allen, it’ll be tough to not see those he has worked with.
“It’s been a struggle through some of it, but the last several years we’ve had a good group of employees to work with and that’s been great!” Allen said with a smile.
Allen talks about the people that have worked with them over the last couple of years and the bond that they have made simply because of the common ground they share – the “been there, done that” group as he called it. From their recent coworkers, it was that common ground that made working together easy.
“I’m really going to miss the last couple years. It’s been fun,” he said.
As with many things, there are memories that stick out and things that hold a special place in your heart, no matter what life brings. These become favorite things.
“My favorite thing is the people, and when we first started they were all our customers and now, they’re all our friends. This has been really fun!” Deb said as her face lit up with joy. “We have had a lot of fun here. Every job is hard work, and it’s hard, but we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. This would of have been our 18th Christmas, so that’s how long we’ve been around.”
“When we first started, we had like three little clothing racks out front and now we’ve developed it into all of this,” Deb said as she looked around the store, while an embroidering machine stitched in the background and she trimmed threads on shirts for a customer.
For Allen, favorite things were more of a favorite time.
“My favorite part of working down here was the holidays and being busy and then, all of a sudden we’d get all of our work done and (on) Christmas Eve it was just like there wasn’t a car on Main Street and it was like total relaxation,” Allen said. “The whole time we’ve ran this, we’ve never actually celebrated actual Christmas. It was just making sure everyone else could celebrate Christmas and enjoy Christmas . . . getting orders all done and our exciting part was just to go home and kick our feet up.”
It was an attitude of caring for others, their customers – more so friends – before doing things for themselves that made up the memories and favorite times at Heartland Embroidery for Allen and Deb.
Moving forward, there will be the ability to get your same logos done with Heartland, as well as, get all your Wyoming Cowboy gear.
“All the Wyoming Cowboy products and apparel will still be here,” Deb assures. “We went to the retail expo and ordered stuff and its coming in and it’ll just keep coming it. We’re going to fine tune back here (the back shop area, where stitching it done), so they’ll have a really good upper-hand on all the embroidery work in the back.
“They’re buying all of our logos, they’re buying it all. She’s (Kelly) a real people person and you know, it’s just going to be Kelly’s face down here, instead of Deb Hunter’s face. It’ll be fun for whoever does it.”
“We’re really excited that young people are buying it,” Deb said. “It can keep Main Street young and vibrant again because they are so excited to be buying it. We are so excited for them.”
With excitement mounting for retirement, there is a wide open door for the future for Deb and Allen.
“We don’t really have anything planned because it’s all happened so fast,” Allen said. “Our daughter and grandkids are out in Virginia, we’ll probably make that trek, instead of once a year, maybe two or three times a year.”
Deb said they’re building a new home and will be moving in soon.
Stress has no doubt played a small role in the last few weeks Allen says.
“We’re retiring,” Allen said. “As soon as we retire, we’re going to have to start moving. It’s all happened so fast. It’s all moving fast for me.”
Despite the quick changes and saying goodbye to their “home” on Main Street, Deb and Allen care tremendously about Torrington and the people here.
“When you own a business, you care more about Torrington,” Allen said. “You know when you drive down Main Street and there’s no place to park – that’s a good feeling. We’re blessed here. People have to stick to it and support the town.”
Deb and Allen Hunter will hand over the keys to new owners Ty and Kelly Correll and Kyle and Lisa Rafferty on Wednesday, July 3 at 4 p.m. Stop by Heartland Embroidery to say good bye to the Hunter’s and welcome the new owners with a business ribbon cutting, while enjoying a hamburger or hotdog.