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Local retailers build and expand
In Boscobel
Local retailers Willow and Ivy build and expand
CHELSIE LEE (right), owner of The Energy Hut, has moved her shop into the front of Willow and Ivy Designs, owned by Cas Kirschbaum (left). The two businesses, along with neighbor Tall Tails Sports & Spirits, are hosting a block party on September 24 on West LeGrand.

BOSCOBEL - Wisconsin’s retail sales are continuing to recover from the pandemic, despite stubborn inflation. Recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show the state’s sales are about eight percent higher than last year, on average. Those figures include restaurants and bars, as well as retail stores. 

Here in Boscobel, there are signs of that growth in a flurry of remodeling and new construction. Two downtown retailers, Willow and Ivy Designs and The Energy Hut, are celebrating a grand re-opening with a block party in collaboration with their neighbor across the street, Tall Tails Sports & Spirits, Saturday, September 24 from 11:00 am-4:00 pm on West LeGrand Street.

“At the beginning of the year I became the sole owner,” explained Willow and Ivy owner Cas Kirschbaum, who provides floral arrangements and wedding services. “There’s so much space here, I realized I could downsize and invite another business into my building.”

The result is a smaller studio in the back of the building, from which Kirschbaum will operate, while the front will be occupied by the tea and smoothie deli, The Energy Hut, with a larger footprint than its old location on West Oak Street. 

The three businesses joined forces for the grand re-opening, which will feature open houses, food trucks, live music, and other activities.

A bigger footprint

Just up Wisconsin Avenue, owner Rex Smith has big plans for the former Fin ’N Feather site, which he purchased after the bar burned down, and which adjoins his building at 830 Wisconsin.

Smith appeared before the Common Council at their last meeting on September 7 to request the city sell him some former railroad property to complete his triangular lot. 

“My intention is to leave it partially a public space,” he told the council. “My intent is to build an outdoor kitchen with summer cooking equipment, and the whole rest of that lot would be public space for events.” 

Smith envisions the corner as prominent gathering space adjacent 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’d like to do something really nice there. It’s a great focal point for the city.”

Smith said he’s making changes to 830 Wisconsin as well, with the front half of the building slated for retail, possibly a deli or other food enterprise. The exterior will get a face lift as well, with the side that formerly abutted Fin ’N Feather receiving siding, and the front façade being restored to a more period-appropriate look. 

He hopes to open the retail space by spring and build the outdoor kitchen by next summer. “We’ll start doing improvements right away,” he told the council, which gave the nod to his plans. In advance of a purchase, he will be hiring a surveyor to determine the lot.

Adults only

Also on the downtown arterial, Timber Lane Coffee’s remodel of the upstairs is complete after several months. 

Owner Madge Stuart explained that the space had been unused except for storage. “I wanted it cleaned up and protected and to provide a little more room for customers.”

A nook under the new staircase provides a cozy play place for the many children who feel like home in the coffee-shop. Upstairs, however, is reserved for adults-only. “We didn’t want to have 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. 

Timber Lane hosts art shows by various artists. September’s show features Michael Riddet, a painter whose works have been on display in galleries and museums internationally.

Two dollars

Across town, a different sort of establishment is under construction—a 10,500 square-foot big-box store that will house a combination Dollar Tree/Family Dollar, one of 400 “combo-stores” the corporation plans to build in 2022.

Dollar Tree merchandise like seasonal and party decorations will share the store with Family Dollar stock like food, beauty products, and supplies. Headquartered in Chesapeake, VA, the Dollar Tree operates more than 15,700 stores, and saw sales last year of $7.08 billion, according to the trade journal Progressive Grocer.

The store will sit on two lots on the former site of Teddy’s Auto Sales. The site was once a gas station and will require underground tanks to be removed, along with polluted soils. 

A spokesman for the developer, Mike Belew, also addressed Boscobel’s City Council on September 7. The new store is in the tax increment district, and as such is eligible to receive tax increment revenue totaling 70 percent of the improved property value spread across 20 years—in this case, about $320,000. That money would recoup some of the cost of removing the tanks and preparing the site for construction—estimated between $600,000 and $750,000.

The developer hopes to close on the property by the end of the year, begin construction in the spring, and open the doors by next year’s holiday season.