Life Along Wisconsin’s Great River Road And Why You Need To Go
By ANASTASIA PENCHI
They are our mothers, sisters, wives and daughters.
They have the internal drive to do it for themselves, their families and for others.
The growth of women-owned businesses during the past 50 years seems significant — women have gone from owning less than 5 percent of all businesses to owning 40 percent of them, according to the U.S. Census.
And yet these businesses account for only 4 percent of total revenues. What can we do to help, you ask? Let’s patronize women-owned businesses.
We must be clear — this list no how encompasses the number of women-owned businesses along Wisconsin’s Great River Road, which is the 250 miles of Highway 35 that runs adjacent to the Mississippi River from Kieler, Wis., in the south, to Prescott in northern Wisconsin.
We asked committee members to nominate their favorite female-owned entities along the road, but the list quickly became too long to include everyone. That’s a good thing, right? Limited space forced us to get creative, so we put together a sample list to get you started. Apologies in advance to those who didn’t get their favorites included.
Start supporting female entrepreneurship by visiting one of these locations:
Shopping and Supper in Stoddard
Stoddard may only have a population of 774, but it offers a pleasant afternoon of shopping and food for those antique-lovers and creative types. Start your journey at Corner Collectibles, which has more of an antique store/flea market type set-up and lots to look at. Then head across the road to Gracie’s Hutch, which is a crafter’s upcycling paradise. The latter even offers painting and other creative art classes, so plan ahead if you want to incorporate an art project into your day. A short drive east will take you to Sylvan Glen, a third woman-owned business that is just outside the village limits. Order the Sylvan Supreme Scallops, which features seared scallops that are lightly dusted in flour and delivered in a white wine sauce. Can you say, “delish?”
La Crosse County’s women got you covered
A community that can support a magazine devoted to Coulee Region Women for more than 15 years can also sustain a large number of women-owned businesses. The La Crosse area not only houses loads of specialty shops like Olive Juice Quilts (caters to quilters) and Addiecakes (gourmet cupcakes), but it has many businesses that aren’t related to hobbies or food. Visit Creative Canvas/All Glazed Up! to get in touch with your inner artist. Or go to Touch of Class for style-conscious boutique shopping or Practically Posh for a “life well-decorated.” Whether you need exercise (visit River Trails Cycles) or an attorney (D. M. Harris Law), women in the Coulee Region are there to help.
Artistic communities offer help and humor
Near the northern tip of Wisconsin’s Great River Road are some women business owners who know how to embrace both purpose and fun. The Purple Turtle Artisan Collective in Stockholm supports other area artists by selling their wares, and Hugga Bugga sells all natural clothing and goat’s milk products. Less than 10 miles away in Maiden Rock is Cultural Cloth, which was not only started by women, but offers design, training and additional expertise to disenfranchised female textile artisans all over the world. Also in Maiden Rock is Limbo Records and Rarities, whose owner has been in the record sales biz for over two decades, and Smiling Pelican Bakeshop, which was started by a woman who loves baking and the area’s migrating pelicans even if they don’t really smile.
Can you say, “Ladies weekend?”
In Alma, which is also located on the northern end of the road, there are even more women-owned art shops like Art and Soul, which was created as a partnership between two women: An artist and a jewelry maker. But did you know you could also show your support of women-owned businesses by coordinating your own ladies weekend there? Gather you female friends and stay overnight at one of many woman-owned options like Blue Door Inn, which has three different sites, or the Felice Patra Inn, which was a dream come true for the Eau Claire woman who opened it in 1996. The Burlington Hotel & Quilt Shop not only has rooms available – it also has its own wine bar. Convenient? Yes. What can I say? Women know women.
Meet the Writer
Anastasia Penchi is a self-employed writer who lives just off Wisconsin’s Great River Road. You can read more about Wisconsin’s Great River Road, and the festivals and people of Western Wisconsin, at the Web site: www.loislaneforhire.com.