Just as her grandmother, mother, and her aunt, Renee England has a love for Merle Norman cosmetics. It was 1995 when she found out the studio in Sullivan, IL was closing up. She decided to give up her office job at an insurance agency on the square and made the jump into the makeup business. She didn't realize this shop had been struggling for a while. Hoping a better location would help, she purchased a different building. Because of the failing local economy, it just wasn't doing well so, she closed it for good.
It was 2005 when Fran Whitley, the owner of the Mattoon Merle Norman, was nearing retirement and needed some operational assistance. Renee ended up working for Fran. Going to meetings and working with her, she learned the ins and outs of the trade. It was 2007 that Renee decided to purchase the Mattoon studio and she couldn't be happier! She truly loves the satisfaction on her client's faces when they are pleased with the way they look.
Keeping the staples, every single year the product line just gets better! My favorite is the Lasting Foundation, Ultra Powder, Lip Liner Plus, and the mascara primer.
If you've never been there or if it's been a while, you will be pleasantly surprised at the array of offerings. There are luxury boutique items such as jewelry, scarves, and fashion outer wear. Need a lil pampering? Merle Norman now features a relaxing spa retreat! Shannon Dearing, a licensed Esthetician, offers professional skin care services including Microdermabrasion, Merle Norman exclusive facials, body wax and tintings.
If you have a teenage daughter then you've probably heard of Renee's Merle Girl Program. Young ladies apply to Merle Norman then they are invited to come in for a complimentary make-over. Judges then decide who would best represent Merle Norman. I have had the honor to photograph the last three Merle Girls.
Now if you wanna go waaay back...
It was back in the early 80's when I first met my now very good friend and daughter of Fran, Nancy Whitley Dearing. She showed me how to apply make-up just like her mom did. Nancy always made me look good for important events like dances, nights out, and even our graduation in 1988. When I would go to her home it always amazed me that the bathroom had as much makeup as the store!
Now, back to Renee... I hope this blog has peeked your interest because Renee is awesome and the products she carries are high quality. You are going to thank me!
Melissa M. Harden
Merle Norman's hours are:
Monday through Friday 9:30am - 5pm and Saturdays 9:30am to 3pm
1608 Broadway Ave.
Mattoon, IL 61938
My favorite pizza in all of the world? Instead of telling you, I’ll give you the phone number 235-0880. Villa Pizza, Home of the Massive Pie! Here is a lil history... In 1971, Sicilian father and son duo, Sammy and Sarafino, came to Mattoon and started Villa Pizza. Sarafino’s girlfriend was still in Sicily. She didn’t want to come to the United States and he didn’t want to go back. He knew he would be required to join the army for two years. Eventually, his heart was overtaken so he decided to go back, and he joined the army so he could soon be with the love of his life.
In 1975, Sammy put the restaurant up for sale. Anthony G. Arena, also Italian and former college MVP and pro football player for the Detroit Lions, came to Mattoon from Chicago and purchased the pizzeria. Once their house sold, his son Jon came down and the two worked side by side. Jon had quite a culture shock and missed his friends. He quickly learned that he was going to love it here. Within a few short months he made some lifelong friends. Eventually, the entire Arena family came to Mattoon and helped out at the new business.
Carrying on with tradition, Villa’s beloved sausage is a secret Arena family recipe which is locked up in a safe at Mark’s My Store. The amazingly rich sauce and all of the ingredients are fresh.
Villa’s pies come in bambino, small, medium, large, family, and of course the Big Tony, plus there is the Original Stand Up Pepperoni Pizza! Pick-up, delivery, dine-in, and there is even an area for parties.
You’re gonna love it!
Melissa M. Harden
2023 Western Ave
Mattoon, IL 61938
My son, Chance, LOVES Floyd’s Barbershop in Tuscola, IL. Jason Armstrong graduated from the Decatur's infamous Lockhart Barber College in '15. Chance loves everything about going into see Jason from getting greeted by Conner, to the great cut with an awesome hard part, to the warm towel after a neck shave. He always comes out looking like a million bucks! Walk-ins, conversations flowing, and jokes flying is how Jason tends to keep the traditional styling alive at Floyd’s.
Da Bomb, Cuban Tobacco, and Old Time Barbershop are names of the Armstrong Gentleman’s Care product line. The all-natural beard oils, washes, soaps, and balms are handcrafted by Jason’s wife Kelsey. The ingredients Kelsey blends are paraben and GMO free. Also, they have no harsh chemicals or dyes. The men rave about these locally made products because their beards are now soft without an oily residue which the spouses love!
And... now you know why we love Floyd's Barbershop!
Melissa M. Harden
107 W Sale St, Tuscola, IL 61953