As an Army brat, Dana Rock Heck knows how to “adapt and overcome.”
LAKESIDE – Dana Rodd Heck is the main “smile” behind the actual red door at Red Door Consignment Store in Lakeside, a business that was truly serendipitously inspired.
Heck literally blazed many trails before winding up in Lakeside.
The daughter of an Army intelligence office and an Army nurse, Heck was born in Nuremberg, Germany. Her parents had met overseas during World War II and married in Australia.
Heck was not able to call any place home until she was 10 years old when the family settled in Cortez, Colorado.
With her father still in the service, and her brothers who were older, gone, one in Viet Nam where her father was, life for Dana from age 10 on was like being an only child.
“I had a wonderful childhood,” said Heck. “I had my mother all to myself. She was the most Godly woman I have ever known. She had worked in a MASH Unit, like on TV, and saw horrible things, bayonet wounds and more.”
At 16, Heck worked after school at Sonic as a car hop. That is also an important age to remember for her because that is how old she was when she met the love of her life, Rick Heck. Rick was 9 months younger than her, but it was love at first sight, and they met at church.
That may be one of the earliest recollections of a “cougar,” before it was called that.
“He could not even drive,” said Heck.
Obviously, that did not matter to her. They have been together 41 years and married 36 of those.
Dana went to school at Fort Lewis College in Durango, majoring in business, and Rick got a Masters Degree, according to Dana, in the school of hard knocks, growing up in the family garage building hot rods.
Dana never really aspired to be anything but a wife and mother, and she did that. She and Rick have three grown birth children, two living in the White Mountains, one in Cortez, and a foster daughter who lives in Cottonwood. They have six grandchildren and are soon to be great grandparents.
Heck said they never really had a plan.
“We just throw things at the wall and whatever sticks,” said Heck.
Dana was sick of cold weather and in 1986, they moved to Page, Arizona, by Lake Powell. She says it is about 10 degrees warmer than here. Prior to that move, she and Rick drove all over Arizona looking for their new home, but had not found it. A family reunion had been planned for Page just a few weeks later in September, and it was obviously “what stuck” because they picked up and moved there in December. Rick opened an off road shop and also worked part time at the power plant. Dana got her radiology license and went to work for a dentist.
Wanderlust settled in and wanting to be near family, they decided to move to Cottonwood. They nested there for a while and then Rick, who was wholesaling cars, was invited to be a GM at dealership in Show Low in 2001. Kicking and screaming, but on the road again, the Hecks wound up in Show Low.
Needing a place to work on cars, Rick bought property on Porter Mountain Road in Lakeside and built a facility. When the property next to it became available, he bought it and started building what was supposed to be a machine shop, but before it was finished the people had backed out.
It was time once again to throw something on the wall and see if it would stick – the Heck Plan, if you will.
Dana’s friend and tack lady, Mickey Oliver, had stopped by the shop and was telling her the Springerville Antique Mall was closing. There it was, they looked at each other, took out paper and pencil and started drawing the layout of what was to be the next “recession proof” business and tenant for the machine shop building. They had ever space rented within a week and people started coming in. Talk about serendipity. Prior to this venture, Dana had never even been in a consignment store in her life.
Rick had also rented out space on to a cabinet shop and a sign shop, but in 2007 they both“tanked.” When they could not find renters, Rick told Dana, “You are expanding.”
Expand she did, and it also “stuck.”
Another expansion idea was the little restaurant she opened inside the consignment shop, a hard business to sustain in any economy. Though it was the “talk of the town,” and had wonderful food, after nine months, the former business major knew it was time to close it. That was a disappointment.
There are about eight key ladies who have helped Heck make the consignment store a success. Nearly every one of them has been with her since the start, especially Mickey who helped her birth the idea.
“These ladies were gifts from God,” said Heck.
Today Heck has over 1500 vendors and consignors.
Heck loves what she does. She loves people, making friends, and just coming to work every day.
Heck’s husband is into racing and probably will always have something to do with cars, and though Dana is not into racing herself, she loves to go “Jeeping.” She also loves to go shooting. She is even NRA Certified. She also loves gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.
If she could go somewhere, a bucket list item maybe, she would go to Egypt, if it were safe. She has always been fascinated with its culture.
With the red, white and blue running through her veins, her parents, who have passed on, would be very proud of Dana today. She has become, her words, “a conservative activist,” for quite some time, hosting political meetings at her consignment shop, and making her voice heard, even if only by her actions. In high school, she always favored current events, and still does.
Several times she has been approached to run for council, but always refused. She would always tell those who asked her to run, “You need a Pit Bull, and I’m a pussycat.”
Like Bob Dylan sang, “The times, they are a changin’.”
Recently, when asked to run for town council, she told the people, “if you can’t find anyone else, I will do it.” Her name was throw in the hat for the Pinetop-Lakeside Town Council, and she got the job.
Heck said she recalls a comment made by AZ Representative Brenda Barton that has stuck with her and made her say she would run. Barton words were, “Challenge begins with the grass roots.”
“I plan to help make things better for our little community,” said Heck. She has been sworn in and is getting up to speed on her duties. She is now reading the book put out by the League of Cities and Towns for her new job.
Once again, the Heck Plan of throwing something on the wall and seeing if it sticks, has proven to be the plan that works for the Hecks.
Dana Heck is a “Mover & Shaper.”