Friends and family say Nancy Ann Heidman had an amazing sense of style, which extended to n’etc, her distinctive Edina boutique.
“She brought magic into the store,” said Daisy Fontaine, a friend who works at the shop. “She empowered a lot of women, including me. She knew most customers by name, and what’s in their closet.”
Heidman, 76, died Oct. 17 of respiratory failure.
She built and ran n’etc for more than 30 years, a retail hamlet at 50th and France Avenue known for its clothing, shoes, accessories and scarves — the last being a Heidman specialty.
“She would float into a room with these amazing scarves and beautiful flowing outfits, and very clear ideas of what she liked and what she didn’t like,” Fontaine said.
“She had a great eye,” said her son, Christopher Heidman, of Minneapolis. His mother loved mixing high-end clothing and accessories with “something from Old Navy,” he noted.
But friends and family say her talents went well beyond fashion.
“She was Martha Stewart on steroids,” said her friend, Sandy DeGonda of St. Louis Park, who worked at n’etc for about a decade in the 1990s.
Heidman cut an impressive figure with her “funky classy” style, but she also cooked, baked, decorated, gardened, sewed and knitted with aplomb.
“Every time you’d see her you’d want her whole outfit,” DeGonda said.
Heidman’s path to the Twin Cities was a bit circuitous.
She was born Nov. 19, 1941, in Hartford, Conn., and eventually earned a nursing degree from the University of Connecticut. After graduating, she served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps in San Diego, where she met her future husband of 20 years, Marvin Heidman.
The couple relocated to Sioux City, Iowa, where they raised three children. While there, Heidman put her nursing skills to work, volunteering at the Sioux City Planned Parenthood clinic, an endeavor her children say she found important and satisfying.
Following her divorce, she moved to Minneapolis in 1985.
“When we lived in Iowa, she’d bring us up to Minneapolis every August to shop for school clothes,” her son said. “Minneapolis was an oasis for her.”
Her daughter Denise Heidman Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo., said, “She always wanted to go to the big city.” Her mother also enjoyed trips to New York to buy items for the boutique — becoming an expert on the city’s elaborate subway system.
“She had that subway system down pat,” said DeGonda, who often accompanied Heidman on her buying trips.
There were other traits that defined Heidman — her devotion to rhubarb, reading, a good hamburger and disco music (especially the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack). And, her daughter said, she loved “just about every dog she ever met, but mostly her own.”
While generous to those close to her, Heidman was also a private person. “She was a strong woman who was opinionated and didn’t put up with a lot of B.S.,” her daughter said.
Heidman was also known to hide a stash of chocolate around her house, something her daughter was reminded of recently when she checked the top of the refrigerator. There, a tiny basket of chocolate had been left behind.
In addition to her daughter Denise and son, Christopher, Heidman is survived by another daughter Melissa Heidman of Boulder, Colo., a brother, Stanley Kulpa, of Bloomfield, Conn.; and four grandchildren.
Heidman did not want a funeral. The family will hold a private service at a later date.