KIELER—Taking great pride in the state of Wisconsin, Dan Brandt shares his love of his home state by selling handmade craft items from his store in Kieler.
It all started with a cement stone he wanted personalized in 2009.
“I wanted one and nobody could make me one, so I decided to make my own,” Brandt said.
He transitioned to making wooden signs and eventually sold his items at craft fairs. He opened his own store, Wisconsin Yard Art, located on Co. HHH in Kieler, in September 2015.
“It’s easier to keep everything at the store than loading it all up for the different events,” Brandt said. “And I can have it all available for everybody all the time.”
He said he likes to be able to display his items the way he wants instead of being confined to a booth space at a craft fair. He likes to display some items together to encourage multiple items to be sold at once.
“I get a lot of compliments about how low my prices are compared to other places,” Brandt said. “It’s more of a hobby to me than it is a business. It’s something I enjoy doing and I don’t want to overcharge people. It is still a business and I need to make a little bit of money.”
His specialty is WisconsinBadger items and he offers seasonal and home décor as well. He also carries Goose Creek Candles.
All of his items are handmade.
“I get ideas from all over and put my own spin on it,” Brandt said.
He said he’s had people throughout the tri-state area come to his shop specifically for his Wisconsin Badger items. His biggest seller is the metal badger. He even secured special licensing to sell the Wisconsin Badger items.
“I love making the Wisconsin signs,” Brandt said. “I also enjoy the seasonal stuff, the change is nice. I tell people to just stop in because next week I could have something completely new.”
He has some special equipment for his projects, including molds for the cement stones, laser cuter for the metal badgers, vinyl cutter and saws. He paints the details by hand.
“I don’t sit down,” Brandt said. “If I’m watching TV, I’m usually working on something at the same time. I’m always busy working on something.”
Brandt’s hobby goes back to his high school days when he made and sold craft items out of the garage that now serves as his store. Now he has added a glass front to the garage.
“It’s nice to be attached to the house where I can be working on stuff and still be open,” Brandt said.
He said he rearranges the store every-other month.
“When I do rearrange, if I have had something for a while, once I rearrange that item will sell,” Brandt said.
Brandt said people can special order items through his website, www.wisconsinyardart.weebly.com. He can also be reached at 608-732-6920 or at his store in Kieler on Thursdays from 4-8 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. -4 p.m.
Brandt also sells his items at two locations in Platteville—Local Beer and Spirits and MVP Sports Cuts—as well as River Road Country Crafts in Potosi where he helps manage the 20 craft vendors.
This is his third year teaching at Holy Ghost-Immaculate Conception School. He teaches sixth, seventh and eighth grade history and most of the other classes for eighth grade. He got three degrees from UW-Platteville: ornamental horticulture, political science and history education.
“I think the reason I chose those three is because it’s a field that is never the same every day, it’s constantly changing,” Brandt said. “That’s why I love teaching so much and it’s even the same with the store.”