“All lasting business is built on friendship,” said the author and philosopher Alfred A. Montapert. That sentiment is exemplified at Crystal House boutique. The cozy Coon Rapids shop stocked with gifts, jewelry, décor and apparel is built on a foundation of loyal friendship shared between two women.
The friendship goes back nearly three decades. Accountant Marilyn Lom found herself in a hard season of life; her husband was ill and her mother was beginning to experience memory loss. While caring for two loved ones, Lom considered the idea of opening a home care facility. Divine moments led Lom to a new friend, Donna Wilson. The pair started a home care business that they still own to this day.
Lom and Wilson shared more than a business; they also traveled together, shopped together and shared their love of collecting pretty things. “We are so much alike, it’s scary sometimes,” Wilson says, “we’re always happy when we’re together.”
The collectors put their hobby to work and opened Crystal House boutique in 2004. Along with all the good, they also shared life’s hard moments together, like the passing of their first husbands and fighting breast cancer.
2008 was a year dedicated to fighting breast cancer for both Lom and Wilson. Lom was diagnosed in the spring, Wilson was diagnosed in the fall. Their businesses had trusted staff members to make sure they could focus on their fight. Wilson says, “We’ve always had a wonderful approach to life, we’re problem solvers… we don’t let much stand in the way.”
Since opening 15 years ago, Crystal House has evolved into a larger space just a couple doors down from the original storefront and is able to stock even more goods. Staff members hand select the items in the store, with the newest addition being Swarovski Crystals. Both Lom and Wilson claim it is their “happy place” and they take delight that the community seems to agree.
During the highs and lows of business, the duo has never had a serious confrontation. Lom focuses on the details of their businesses while Wilson strategizes the bigger picture. What is it like to be in business with your friend? Lom says, “It’s kind of like asking what it’s like to have a sister.”
- Location: 455 99th Avenue NW Suite 230
- Lom and Wilson have had other business endeavors over the years, one of which was a women’s retreat center that was located at a house on Crystal Lake in Grand Rapids. The name of the store stems from that house.
- The Crystal House store manager has been working there since the very beginning.