BOSCOBEL – Wisconsin retail sales continue to recover from the pandemic despite stubborn inflation. Recent figures from the US Census Bureau show that the state’s sales are on average about eight percent higher than last year. These numbers include restaurants and bars as well as retail outlets.
Here in Boscobel, there are signs of that growth in a spate of remodeling and new construction. Two downtown retailers, Willow and Ivy Designs and The Energy Hut, are celebrating a grand reopening with a block party in partnership with their neighbor across the street, Tall Tails Sports & Spirits, Saturday, September 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m :00 am on West LeGrand Street.
“Earlier this year I became the sole owner,” explained Cas Kirschbaum, owner of Willow and Ivy, which provides floral arrangements and wedding services. “There’s so much space here that I realized I could downsize and invite another company into my building.”
The result is a smaller studio at the back of the building from which Kirschbaum will operate, while the front will be occupied by tea and smoothie deli The Energy Hut, with a larger footprint than its old West Oak Street location.
The three companies have joined forces for the grand reopening, which will include open houses, food trucks, live music and other activities.
A bigger footprint
Just off Wisconsin Avenue, owner Rex Smith has big plans for the former Fin ‘N Feather lot, which he bought after the bar burned down and is adjacent to his building at 830 Wisconsin.
Smith appeared before the Common Council at their last meeting on September 7 to ask the city to sell him some former railroad property to complete his triangular lot.
“My intention is to leave it partly as a public space,” he told the council. “My intention is to build an outdoor kitchen with summer cooking equipment and all the rest of this property would be public space for events.”
Smith envisions the corner as a prominent meeting place next to the farmers’ market. “I can cook chicken on Saturdays after the market,” he said. “Live music from time to time would be really fantastic. I want to do something really nice there. It’s a great hub for the city.”
Smith said he’s also making changes to 830 Wisconsin, with the front half of the building earmarked for retail, possibly a deli or other food business. The exterior will also receive a facelift, with the side formerly adjacent to Fin ‘N Feather receiving siding and the front facade being restored to a more contemporary look.
He wants to open the shop space by spring and build the outdoor kitchen by next summer. “We will start improvements immediately,” he told the council, which agreed to his plans. Before making a purchase, he will engage an appraiser to determine the lot.
For adults only
Also on the main artery downtown, the remodeling of the top floor of Timber Lane Coffee has been completed after several months.
Owner Madge Stuart explained that the space had not been used except for storage purposes. “I wanted it to be tidy and protected and give customers a little more space.”
A corner under the new staircase offers a cozy playground for the many children who feel at home in the café. However, the upper floor is reserved for adults only. “We didn’t want to worry about the kids going up and down the stairs,” Stuart said. “So the upstairs is a quiet place for adults to read or study.
Art exhibitions by various artists are held in Timber Lane. The September show features Michael Riddet, a painter whose work has been exhibited in galleries and museums internationally.
Across town, another type of facility is under construction — a 10,500-square-foot big-box store that will house a Dollar Tree/Family Dollar combination, one of 400 “combo stores” the company is opening to build in 2022.
Dollar Tree merchandise like seasonal and party decorations shares the store with Family Dollar stocks like groceries, beauty products, and supplies. Headquartered in Chesapeake, VA, The Dollar Tree operates more than 15,700 stores and had sales of $7.08 billion last year, according to Progressive Grocer magazine.
The store will be located on two lots on what was formerly Teddy’s Auto Sales. The site was once a gas station and requires the removal of underground tanks and polluted soil.
A spokesman for the developer, Mike Belew, also addressed the Boscobel City Council on Sept. 7. The new business is located in the Treasury District and, as such, is entitled to a total of 70 percent of the improved property value in tax rise receipts spread over 20 years — in this case, approximately $320,000. That money would recoup some of the cost of removing the tanks and preparing the site for construction — estimated at between $600,000 and $750,000.
The developer hopes to close the property by the end of the year, start construction in the spring and open the doors by next year’s holiday season.