Kate Ungs’s customers call her Marion store, Purse~N~ality, the “hidden gem.” One reason is its location.
“Some of my regulars call it that because it is kind of hard to see the store from main street,” Ungs admitted.
Located on a short side street in uptown Marion, the purse and accessory shop keeps company with various small boutique and specialty shops tucked in between a couple of historical brick buildings.
Her undergraduate degree was in sports management, but when she decided to go on to graduate school at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., she obtained an MBA in marketing.
Dissatisfied with various jobs she’d tried after graduating, she went to work part time at Purse~N~ality.
“The owner (Jessica Marsh) had another shop up in Cedar Falls and was always commuting, so (after a few months) I asked her if she would consider letting me manage this shop in Marion for her,” Ungs recalled.
“One day she asked me if I’d consider buying an existing business, and I was like, ‘Yeah,’ so we entered into that whole process and I’ve owned the business since 2009.”
Purse~N~ality carries a big line of totes, hobo bags, shoulder purses, cross body purses as well as Iowa Hawkeye purses.
“We also carry the magnetic bags by Miche,” Ungs said. “They are like Build-A-Bear, only it’s build a purse — you buy a base and then you change out the exterior with different options.”
Ungs, who is a new mom with a four-month old son, was dismayed at the lack of selection of diaper bags in the area, so she added product lines to her store from diaper bag companies such as JJ Cole and Kalencom.
The clientele age demographic ranges from teens to women in their 60s.
“Some of my regulars, the ladies in their 60s, are the ones who want the crazy, big bags,” Ungs noted, referring to the polka-dot, geometric-designed, wild retro-colored purses lining the shelves.
She runs the store with the help of three full-time people, and her husband, Eric, who does all the back-office work, from handling finances to designing and developing the website as well as the price tags with their special Purse~N~ality logo.
“I feel that Cedar Rapids has poor clothing options,” she said. “We have two extremes: very inexpensive and very expensive. “We don’t have anything that is fun and affordable that goes with current trends. That is what we are trying to do in our store.”
Leg warmers and jewelry — “statement pieces” — also will be added soon.
“I love when people recognize that a purse is your flair,” she said. “You wear a black coat, or a brown coat, or you wear a sweatshirt. Why not have a little fun and have this purse that is your little piece of flair?”
Owner: Kate Ungs
Address: 725 11th St., Marion
Phone: (319) 261-0879
Website: www.pursenalityof marion.com
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