New addition to Culver's downtown offers 'younger, fashionable clothes'

They say when one door closes, another opens. In downtown Culver this week, it’s more a case of when one store closes, another opens.
As reported in a recent edition of this newspaper, The Collectors antique store and The Bear End teddy bear shop may be winding down their many years as fixtures in Culver’s downtown, but a new offering for Culver area shoppers has debuted in the form of Civvies, located at 114 South Main Street (the former site of The Bear End).
Culver resident Julie Brooks is partnering with friend Julie Workman, of Starke County, in the venture, which officially opened Saturday.
Brooks moved part-time to Culver -- her family was originally from the Phoenix, Ariz. area -- eight years ago. Having put two boys through Woodcraft and now into Culver Academies here, she says she’s been looking for an opportunity to stay here and “be part of the community.”
“We love Culver,” she says. “This (type of store) seemed lacking in the town: a place to shop and pick up younger, fashionable clothes.”
Workman has been involved in retail in Culver for many years now, though like Brooks she’s never opened her own business. She “thought it would be fun to have our own shop,” she explains. “And I got to have a good partner.”
The idea for the store, say Brooks and Workman, had been festering for about two years. The two friends discussed it while biking around Lake Maxinkuckee during evenings, and began to get more serious about it during the past eight months. As discussions ensued, the two credit Culver resident Michele Jansey with suggesting the name “Civvies” for their business.
“Everyone is welcome,” says Brooks. “We have a lot of different price points, which is something we wanted to make certain: that we had something for everybody.”
Civvies currently has over 45 different vendors’ items in stock now, and Brooks says the goal is “to keep things really fresh, and find really talented people who may not be in the big stores.”
Offerings range from well-established vendors, she adds, to some “just getting into Nordstrom’s. We’re investigating bringing in some fashions you might not be able to find in other places.”
In addition to clothing, accessories, jewelry, and a few gift and home items (including a bit of furniture) will be available.
“We want to keep carrying a lot of different lines and see what people are interested in,” says Brooks.
All the items are hand-picked by Brooks and Workman, who have selected up-and-coming designers from as far away as Spain and as close to home as Indiana.
Those whose last visit to the site was during its reign as The Bear End are in for a surprise at the new look of the place. Building owner Don Mackey brought in a company from South Bend, Brooks explains, to remove layers of various floor coverings and reveal the original oak floor beneath. Chris Chambers, she says, was part of the process in transforming the walls from teddy bears to their current “blank canvas.”
Additionally, Mackey added a dressing room to the space and a wall so the store is no longer a “walk-through” into The Collectors.
Brooks and Workman hope Civvies will brighten dreary winters as well as offering summertime shopping options, and help foster Culver’s local economy, while saving shoppers travel fuel money in the process.
“A lot of times town is often overlooked in the winter,” notes Brooks. “It’s a beautiful place and a lot of great people live here. They still have a busy life (in the winter) and want new, pretty things.”
Civvies will be open Monday through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 10 to 6, and Sundays from 10 to 3. The hours will change after Labor day, so customers are encouraged to call then for updated times.
The store’s website,, is under construction but will soon be available, as will Facebook and Twitter pages. Civvies may be reached by phone at 574-635-0011 (that’s a local number, by the way) or by email at