Shop owners along the strip in King believe now is the perfect time for area residents to rediscover them.
“I think a lot of people think they have to shop in Appleton, and they don’t,” said Lisa McCann.
She is the owner of Katie McCann’s, one of many gift shops located on County Trunk QQ.
In business for about 13 years, McCann said most of the products she carries are made in the United States.
The Chain O’ Lakes T-shirts and sweatshirts in her store are especially popular with tourists.
However, there are plenty of local residents who also live on lakes, and when Waupaca families host foreign exchange students, those students always appreciate taking something home to remind them of their time here, she said.
“Small business is what our country is founded on,” McCann said. “I just think it’s important to support your community.”
Those who have not visited the King shops lately may want to do so during an upcoming special event.
The annual Autumn Harvest Fest is being held in the King area from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4.
The event will include food, wagon rides, chainsaw art, pumpkins, art demonstrations, face painting, the music of John Hammond and friends, a bouncy tent, local business specials and arts and crafts exhibitors.
Lynn Holland, owner of Sweet’s Glass Treats, said the local stores want area residents to know they are here and that they hold special events throughout the year.
In addition to Katie McCann’s and Sweet’s Glass Treats, the shops in King include Summers End, Cate & Company, Anne’s Hearts Desire, Cinnamon House, Chameleo, Raspberry Connection, Timber Creek, Cheesie Bob’s Sasseez and Furniture by Todd.
During the summer, many of their customers are tourists.
Holland says most of her regular customers are from the Fox Cities, Stevens Point and Wautoma.
“They’re coming from far away, and they keep coming back,” she said.
They often say to her, “We don’t have anything like the strip in King,” or “It feels like a miniature Door County.”
Those who make the trip to King to shop also go to lunch while they are there and sometimes add kayaking to their day, Holland said.
She said the shop owners tells their customers about each other’s businesses and also about what Waupaca has to offer.
Holland said area residents may find unique, reasonably priced items in King.
Darlene Larson, owner of Summers End, agrees.
Like Holland, her regular customers travel from the Fox Cities and Wisconsin Rapids to visit her store.
“We all appreciate when local residents check us out,” Larson said. “We are all different. We try to keep our inventory separate.”
Many of the shops were once cottages, offering a relaxed, homelike atmosphere, she said.
Customers tell her it is fun to shop in King.
“You become friends with your customers. You get to know them by name,” Larson said.
Christine Abbott is in her eighth year of owning Cate & Company and feels the same way.
Ninety-five percent of her customers are from out of town.
She sees more local residents at her store during the off season.
“Like anything, we don’t realize the treasure we have in our backyard,” Abbott said. “There are so many good treasures in the community. We all have unique items. Each of our stores has its own taste, so people can walk from store to store and find everything is different.”