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New store offers a variety of delights
In Gays Mills
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The halls and spaces of the Gays Mills Mercantile Center will be a little livelier soon with the addition of a new vintage and novelty store – “Tri R Store.”

The store will open in the Mercantile Center, across the hall from the Crawford County Independent office on March 2.

A grand opening will take place the week of March 9-13.

Proprietors Jill and Russ Riggs are no newcomers to the business of selling unique and vintage items. They ran a popular business, The Garage Sale Barn, out of their rural Steuben property.

The couple was forced to temporarily suspend operations when access to their 60x80 pole shed was damaged due to a landslide that left their yard littered with debris and large boulders.

The couple’s motto for their vintage and novelty business is “If we don’t have it, we’ll try to find it.”

Jill reminisces that she once assisted a client who had purchased a Victorian home in Monona, Iowa. Jill sourced needed items to completely furnish the home in Victorian period pieces.

Jill is a very pleasant and approachable woman, and would be happy to assist you in acquiring whatever you may be looking for – assuming she doesn’t already have it.

The store is filling up with an amazing array of interesting items, from county décor to Depression glass to homemade items to silly novelties and vintage items.

Jill emphasized that “What we’ll have in the store are mainly originals, and if not, will be marked accordingly.”

Displayed in the window as you enter the building are the cutest little crocheted baby hat/booties combinations, as well as hats for older children.

In addition, there is a whole wall dedicated to smaller items such as an intriguing collection of pewter. We were also shown a comical ice bucket in the shape of a toilet accompanied by a pair of ice tongs shaped like teeth that proclaim on the original packaging “Grandmas Teeth.”

The store will also feature other unique and homemade items such as wind chimes made from eating utensils, recipe boxes, and crocheted Barbie wear.

Russ was quick to share that he is on a mission to pump up the offerings for men, and plans to start offering antique tools among other items.

In time the couple may also expand into an even larger space in the building if things go well. If so, they would start to sell some of the larger items previously sold from their rural Steuben location such as furniture and appliances.

We could go on and on – the list is almost endless. You’ll have to come and see for yourself!

Jill emphasizes that she prices her items to sell – modestly priced enough to be accessible, while not so inexpensive that the items are just repurchased for sale elsewhere.

Jill and Russ Riggs have lived in the area for over 27 years, and have welcomed many area youth into their large and loving family.

The Riggs will employ two young women from the area, Jessica Moris of Prairie du Chien, and Tori Heisz of Gays Mills, who will help to staff the store.

In addition to the Tri R Store business, Jill has another passion that she has translated into a livelihood – good food.

Jill ran a restaurant until the need to care for an elderly parent caused her to envision a more flexible lifestyle for herself.

Out of this came “Tri R Catering,” which is the companion business to the new “Tri R Store.”

From modest beginnings, Jill and Russ have developed their catering business into a thriving concern. Jill reports they are booked solid every weekend through April of 2016.

Tri R Catering clients  include the UW Extension, Dairyland Power, local private parties, and they even cater the popular “Chuck Wagon” at Viroqua’s “Wild West Days,” complete with vintage costumes, classic “cowboy coffee,” barbecued pulled-pork sandwiches, beef stew, homemade biscuits and gravy, walking tacos, and apple cinnamon rolls.

They were also honored to help cater a very large event in Prairie du Chien for a National Guard sendoff.

Their catering business motto is “From Backyard to Banquet Hall.”

Jill also serves as a sourcing resource for other caterers who are looking for fresh, local ingredients, which is her specialty.

To contact Jill and Russ about their vintage ad novelty item business, or theircatering business, call (608) 476-2240 or e-mail

Jill reports that her world-famous, finger-licking-good, homemade, all from fresh ingredients apple cinnamon rolls will be available to patrons for the grand opening of the store, along with a selection of hot beverages.

So, mark your calendars for the store’s grand opening the week of March 9-13, and come and browse the shelves!