Bits & Pieces owner expands art store in Coral Ridge Mall

Bits & Pieces owner Deb Olson recently opened a secondary location just next door, called More Bits & Pieces. Driven by her faith, Olson said the business is her mission in life.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Bits and Pieces is seen in the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, Iowa, on April 4, 2022.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

Deb Olson opened Bits & Pieces in the Coral Ridge Mall almost three years ago, when she said her faith called her to create a welcoming space for socialization away from her cell phone. On April 2, Olson opened More Bits & Pieces, as an expansion.

More Bits & Pieces resides right across the mall’s walkway from the first branch of the business, offering art classes and a small in-store bakery in addition to the consignment artwork that can be found in either location, but both venues share the same sentiment.

“It just seemed like we needed a place where people could socialize, and or somebody could talk to somebody if they wanted to,” Olson said. “Just to be there for people. It’s all about people.”

More Bits & Pieces offers several types of art formats, including painting, knitting, drawing and more for both adults and children.

Between the two storefronts, Bits & Pieces has 40 consigners currently in store, and 20 consigners awaiting display. Olson said that she may need to start rotating the merchandise she has sitting out to give all consigners some room on the shelves.

Faith has been a driving factor in the operation of Bits & Pieces, Olson said. After spending years selling materials at craft and vendor shows throughout Iowa, Olson said she noticed people looking lost as they wandered through the mall, staring at their phones when they had nothing else to do.

On a whim, Olson filled out the paperwork and moved into a vacant spot in the mall right next to Old Navy. She said there needed to be a place at the mall where people could come if they needed a hug, a prayer, or just a listening ear.

“I just felt that nudge from the Lord to say, ‘Go ahead, I want you to do this regardless [of] whether you think you can or not,’” Olson said. “And so, I just stepped out on a limb one morning and I sent the contract in, and after that, things just rolled.”

Bits & Pieces has since moved into a different location within the mall where Yankee Candles once stood, with More Bits & Pieces opening right across the way. Olson said she is planning a grand opening event for the second shop on May 1.

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Olson is planning on having a set number of gift baskets to hand out to those who arrive first to the store, along with face painting and popcorn. Employees will be present to help explain the process of signing up for classes at More Bits & Pieces, and to help with the DIY section of the store where people can pick out items for crafts and sit down to do them then and there.

While sales are necessary to keep the business running, Olson said money isn’t her motivating factor — it’s spreading love.

Olson said that this business is her retirement plan, and her mission in life. She is at the mall seven days a week from open to close and said her experience has been so rewarding that she is writing a book about it.

“Sometimes all people need is [love] a little bit, and I just want that to continue. I want that to be embedded in my employees,” she said. “Just so people can come in and feel like they’re walking in grandma’s house.”