Meet Your BOK 2011 Winner: Scott Schimmel and Lisa Sorensen, Co-owners, Bliss and Bliss Home

Wins: Best Store, Best Gift Store, Best Furniture Store

What has made Bliss so successful?

Scott: Timing had a lot to do with it. Nine years ago we had the inclination to open up in an urban area poised for redevelopment. We tried to bring interesting things to our store, things you couldn't find everywhere. We try to keep our inventory fresh and new. Our success builds from our being price conscious. We look at everything we put in our stores, and we ask, "Would we purchase that at that price?" That's the fun of buying. We buy things we like.

What motivated you to open the first Bliss store downtown?

Scott: Lisa lived in Europe. I love cities. We had no other thoughts whatsoever of opening up anywhere else. Downtown was very supportive from the start. [Longtime downtown resident] Karen Kluge was our first customer.

Lisa: She bought so many candles. I wonder where she put them all.

Scott: When we opened the fences were up, and the Square was a mud pit. You're walking on planks to get in the door. Momentum was inevitable. You could feel it in the air. Once the fences came down, people came.

What made you decide to carry furniture?

Scott: When we first opened, we didn't have much of anything. We had candles, vases, picture frames, and a little bit of furniture. We were Bliss Home + Art. We decided to pull the furniture out, so we became Bliss and Bliss Home.

In what other ways has Bliss changed?

Scott: We started out as a gift store. We still have gifts, but we're more than that now. We started dabbling in clothes four years ago. We had a small space dedicated to apparel. Now it's probably 60 percent.

How do you select the art that hangs at Bliss?

Scott: There's a committee. We've always tried to support local art. Being a local business and being in an urban area, we want to support local and regional art. We've expanded beyond that, but we always want to support local artists.

How did you come up with the name "Bliss"?

Scott: It's short, easy to understand. We felt like that one syllable captured the feel and essence of what we wanted to do. "Shop in Bliss, Live in Bliss" is our tag line.

Are green and purple your favorite colors?

Scott: Green's one of our favorite colors. The outside was [former restaurant] Lula Purple.

Lisa: We didn't want to repaint!

Scott: We liked the contrast. When you walk out of a store in Europe, you feel like you have something special. We couldn't afford to put "Bliss" on the green bags. We had rules. You used a certain number of pieces of purple tissue depending on the size of the bag. We used to sit at Oodles and watch the bags. We'd call the store and say, "We didn't see any purple tissues sticking out." I remember going to birthday parties, and there'd be six or seven Bliss bags.

What's it like to work together every day?

Lisa: It's great. We have similar tastes, thank God. We'll be at the apparel mart and pick out similar items. He has his strengths, and I have mine.