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Friend's death inspires woman to start business

By ALLISON MILES
Jan. 5, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 4, 2013 at 7:05 p.m.

Julie Allen, 55, of Victoria, talks about selling her items in Dee's Creations in Victoria.

For more information

on Dee's Creations, call 361-652-5513 or 361-652-0684 or visit 1909 E. Red River St.

Dee Garland is a firm believer that when God closes one door, he opens another. But the big guy took it a step further for the Victoria resident who, with inspiration from one special friend, didn't just open another door.

She opened a business all her own.

Garland befriended Linda Dunn, a small woman with a big heart, when the two worked together at a Victoria retail shop.

Dunn suffered from liver disease and needed a transplant, she said. When the woman became too ill to work, Garland made it a priority to visit her friend and venture out to the nurseries and resale shops the two enjoyed.

"She always told me she wanted to open her own shop," Garland said with a smile, remembering the woman who still baked cookies and cakes for her former coworkers long after she left. "She wanted to call it Bojangles. She always talked about that."

That goal came to a partial reality in January 2011, when the two women opened a booth inside Field of Dreams resale shop.

Dunn lost her battle with the disease the following month.

While a striking blow to Garland, who, although she had lost family members, had never lost a friend, it wasn't the end of Dunn's dream.

The woman forged on, operating her booth while also holding down her full-time retail job.

When she learned of an opening inside a Red River St. shopping center and, days later, learned of Field of Dreams' upcoming close, she took it as a sign that it was time to take the leap into business.

In August, Garland opened Dee's Creations With God's Help at 1909 E. Red River St. but later shortened it to simply Dee's Creations.

"I almost named this place Bojangles for Linda," she said, looking around the store. "But it just worked like clockwork. Like this was supposed to happen."

Today the shop offers a variety of new and used items from a number of vendors.

Susie Garcia opened Cozy Corner inside the shop about two months ago. In her section of the shop, she offers holiday items, handmade hair bows, furniture and more.

Going into business for herself was always a dream, she said, noting that this was her chance.

"I never had a chance to do anything like this because I worked full time," said Garcia, who retired from her retail work about a year and a half ago. "But Dee had space, so here I am."

Another vendor, Julie Allen, operated Grandma's Cupboard inside the shop through December. At that point, she ran out of inventory, she said, noting she sold items her in-laws had left to her in their estate.

Still, she said, she planned to return down the road.

"I enjoy it," she said. "And I think this type of business is really growing."

As for Garland, she said she was proud of the business she'd cultivated but admitted it wouldn't be possible without help from her vendors and husband, who helps keep things going.

She said she hoped to see the shop continue to thrive and grow with time but said she wouldn't forget the woman who helped her get her start.

A framed photograph of Dunn - a visual reminder to persevere - sits near the cash register.

"With all she went through, she always had strength, and she was always so positive," Garland said. "I feel like she's still here and proud."

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