As a child, Brooke Graham turned the breezeway of her family’s home into her own little store.
She filled it with toys and tried to coax others to visit it with homemade signs.
These days, Graham has a real store.
It is called The Revival and is located in Waupaca’s downtown, at 111 W. Fulton St.
“I kind of forgot about it until I was here awhile,” she said of her childhood game of playing store.
The New London native, who moved to Waupaca about 10 years ago, says she always wanted to have her own shop.
Graham learned about how to run a small business during the years she worked at JR’s Waupaca True Value Hardware and about sales and how to build a business during her tenure at Belmont Credit, where she was an account executive.
“This all came together at once for me,” she said of her decision to open The Revival. “I had driven past the building and thought, ‘Somebody needs to open up something really cool there.'”
That was last winter when she noticed a “for rent” sign in the building.
In February, Graham looked at the building.
By the end of that month, renovations began inside.
With the help of her husband Trent, the drop ceiling was removed. That’s when they discovered the original tin ceiling, some of which can now be seen in the store.
Family and friends also assisted as the floor was refurbished and the front office area turned into dressing rooms.
Graham chose cream for the color of the walls, allowing her to showcase the colors of the clothing, scarves, jewelry, purses and artwork that she sells at The Revival.
“I wanted a combination of art, jewelry, decor and clothing. It all goes together,” she said. “To me, fashion is an art. It’s an expression of who you are.”
As she decided which particular women’s clothing lines to carry, Graham searched for items that both were unique and at price points that would be affordable.
“I tried to find fabrics that feel very nice,” said Graham, who sews for herself.
As for the prices, she wanted them to be what she would be willing to spend on clothes.
The Revival carries a variety of sizes, including plus sizes.
“I’ve been trying to feed off what people say they want,” she said. “I pay attention to how people feel about different colors and patterns and what people like as far as styles and colors.”
Graham is seriously considering adding clothing for men and children.
With the exception of basic items like tanks and slips, she does not order most things twice.
“I want people to feel free to look around and find things that are unique, that they won’t find anwhere else. I want them to have things that make them feel good,” Graham said.
Some of the jewelry in the store is made by Graham, and some is made by her friend Donna Fredrick.
Those who visit the store will also see some Fair Trade jewelry, as well as sunglasses and shoes.
Graham knew she wanted to include the work of local artists. Susan Martin’s folk paintings and carvings can be found at The Revival, and Graham wants to add oil paintings, multi media, metal sculpture and glass.
Soon the back portion of her store will be a home decor area, featuring the work of Jim Green & Sons, of Manawa.
Some of his custom-built furniture – often made from recovered wood and tin – will be for sale.
Since opening on May 11, Graham has found the downtown business community to be supportive.
The Revival is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m Saturday.
The store is on Facebook, and Graham may be contacted at 715-281-5100.
Graham decided to name the store “The Revival” because “part of what we’re doing is repurposing with Jim Green and his furniture. We will have old things transformed into new the way God takes us and transforms us into something beautiful.”
The girl who played store as a child is having fun deciding what to carry.
“I love it,” Graham said. “I like helping people find things. It’s like I get to shop every day.”