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Laura Applegate, JD Dotson & Jon Freels

Savvy shoppers in search of one-of-a-kind gifts, unique accessories and fine art sold at reasonable prices have known about Regalo for years.

Laura Applegate, her brother JD Dotson and his fiancé Jon Freels opened their first boutique in 2002 in the Old Highlands in Louisville. The gift shop proved popular and within a decade, the trio would have three locations in the city – and their sights set on opening up a shop across the bridge.

“We just felt like there was a new vibe happening in New Albany, and we wanted to be a part of it,” Freels said.

“We wanted to be a part of it from the beginning,” Dotson added.

The co-owners also knew exactly where they wanted to set up shop: on the corner of Pearl and Market streets. That’s where Commercial REALTOR® Mike Kopp envisioned Regalo, too.

Kopp, who is with RE/MAX FIRST Commercial Group, has been instrumental in recruiting a majority of the retailers, restaurants and office users in the area. “He approached us and asked if we’d ever thought about moving to New Albany,” recalled Applegate. “I said we had, but only if we could have the spot on Pearl and Market. He said that was the exact spot he had for us.”

Regalo has now been open for more than a year. “We’re on track to be successful,” Freels said.

The three also are part of a grassroots effort to promote Southern Indiana to those who have yet to experience the city.

In fact, well before they’d inked plans to open a business in the region, Dotson, a talented artist, photographer and graphic designer, began toying with several t-shirt designs. Louisville had Nulu and SoFo. What about SoIN? “We came up with that because we are so in love with Southern Indiana,” he said. “There’s so much state pride and Louisville pride, but there wasn’t anything for Southern Indiana.”

The response to shirts bearing the design has been wonderful, Dotson said. “People are proud of (Southern Indiana). We’re proud of it.”

Applegate and Dotson, who were raised in Lanesville with their siblings (Freels is from Columbus, Ind.), recall riding a bus through downtown New Albany as children, dreaming about the possibilities of working in the city. “It was desolate. It was tumbleweeds flying through the streets,” Applegate recalled. “But we even had future visions then.”

They’re So In Love, Here’s Why You Should Be, Too

“I think New Albany has the potential to be (to Louisville) what Brooklyn is to New York City. It could be this smaller, hipper place that’s rich in history.” –Jon Freels

“I love the history and the architecture. There are so many historic places in Southern Indiana. One of my favorite things to do is take my camera and explore the smaller towns. They have so much to offer.” –JD Dotson

“Oh my gosh! Come Back Inn in Jeffersonville, Sweets by Morgan, The Exchange, Feast, River City Winery, Lavender Hill, A Nice Restaurant. There are too many to name; I love them all.” –Laura Applegate

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