Passersby are turning their heads to the south side of W. North Water Street near South Pearl, across from the old city hall. Three retail signs hang above three businesses that are notably mistaken as one business.
From street side of W. North Water Street are Everything Western, Back Again Furniture, and Country Crafts. Two doors down from the new businesses is a downtown icon, Bult’s Quality Bakery.
Sandy Dowling is the proprietress of Back Again Furniture, located at 110 W. North Water Street. “I was here first!” exclaimed Dowling with a teasing lilt to her voice. Previously located north on Shawano Street between Huber Shoes and Anytime Fitness, Dowling’s business was gaining recognition. When Anytime Fitness owners sought space for expansion, Dowling opted to relocate her Back Again Furniture business.
“I looked for places to rent and called the Chamber of Commerce to help. Three rentals were available east of Bult’s Bakery and had one owner, Chris Schricker. That made it very easy to look at all three. The middle rental suited my needs and here I am.” The arduous task of moving a furniture store began.
Tracy Moeller of Country Crafts, 112 W. North Water Street, previously located down North Water Street near two bars, wanted to relocate nearer retail stores. “I saw that Sandy was setting up her place and I kind of just followed,” says Moeller. “I like it a lot better up here.”
Everything Western, located at 108 W. North Water Street is owned and operated by Linda Szyperek (pr. Sha-peer-ek). “I was Sandy’s customer and she had told me to come on down here to check out her new location,” recalls Szyperek. “This summer I stopped by and saw other spaces for rent. I thought it was a great opportunity, since two stores had come in, to take my business to the next level. Previously I was a vendor at an antique mall. I would never have been here by myself. It just wouldn’t have worked.”
Everything Western perfectly describes the merchandise in Linda Szyperek’s shop. “Cowboy boots and shirts are on top of the wanted list for customers, and we have them.” Hats, belts, western décor, and tack. “I will bring in more and more as the business grows. I opened on Fall Family Fest/Cheese and Sausage day. As I asked visitors about the store, they offered great suggestions. I have some of those ideas to run with and appreciate the input. I am a listener. It’s a great way to learn.”
A secondary business venture, the back of the store is devoted to Thomas Alexis Photography studio, complete with backdrops, furniture, western saddles and vignettes. “Nature plays a role in photography during every season,” says Szyperek, “and New London has many wonderful settings to use for family, graduate, pet, and wedding photography. Because of my love for horses and nature, my personal photography is for sale as well.”
Szyperek says people have been incredibly friendly and welcoming. She is blessed by vendors who are so creative and easy to work with. “I have welded horseshoe décor made by a guy whose creativity is endless. He is selling a horseshoe toothbrush holder.” She has return customers already and takes special orders for boots and other merchandise.
At Back Again Furniture, Dowling concentrates on home décor, including re-purposed and original finish furniture, lamps, stools, and more. “Some ‘as is’ pieces are perfect for customers who want to do their own repurposing with a color to enhance their home,” explains Dowling. “If some pieces sit for more than a month I will redesign them and put them out again.” A local artist provides popular rooster paintings on glass and Dowling is excited to see the artist’s new ideas.
The furniture and décor shop is branching out to include items from artists who design hemp and beaded jewelry, soaps, bath salts and fragrances. In November, a section of the store will become a small boutique, dedicated to higher end, used fashion pieces including purses, shoes, and clothing.
Country Crafts offers a myriad of items, displayed within eight themed rooms that flow endlessly to the back of the store. This is the office site of the late Doctor Monsted, former patient and procedure rooms. Even the receptionist area remains.
“I have rooms set up for hunting, local and national sports, baby, kitchen, pets, holiday, pillow and blanket, and the front entrance with a mix of everything, explains Moeller.
Thirty crafters provide many styles of crafted items and most will do custom orders. “There are always new, seasonal items available. Fleece is used for blankets, throws, baby snuggies, hooded scarves, pillows, mittens, and pet beds. Wood benches are incredibly sturdy with a mellow look. The sports room is full of all the items a sports fan could imagine. Over 50 breeds of dog are represented on blankets, beds, clothing. Mending, alterations and wedding gowns are offered as well.
“Having three businesses like this draws people from Bult’s Bakery, Familiar Grounds, St. John’s Thrift Shop and Water Street Vintage,” explains Szyperek.
“I have customers all day. It starts in the morning with customers who go to Bult’s Bakery,” reports Moeller.
“In the afternoon we get people from the other stores and Familiar Grounds because they went and tried their new lunch menu or picked up a drink,” adds Dowling. “Plus, customers from the valley have followed me from Medina, where I started my business.” I think having the big vintage and antique mall across the street brings people from even further away.”
“I noticed when Tracy’s business moved in and then Linda’s, customers thought that were three separate stores,” says Dowling.
“Sometimes customers come in and, after a while, ask where the walkway is to the next area,” added Szyperek. “That’s when I explain to them that they have to go outside to enter the next place. Three separate businesses are next to each other here.”
At this time, Everything Western and Thomas Alexis Photography are visible by seasonal corn stalks and a hay bale. Soon an etched wood sign will occupy the space above the entrance door. Call 920-221-5662.
Back Again Furniture entrance is located under a striped awning, between the white window boxes. Call 920-982-2961.
Country Crafts brightly colored, large format yard signs call attention to the store. Call 920-250-5215