Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
Phat Quarters Quilting
315 S. Main St., Galena, Ill., (815) 776-0034, phatquartersinfo.com
Located in the heart of Galena since 2004, this shop carries better-quality fabric, notions, instruction books and paper or pdf patterns. It’s also an authorized sales and service dealer for Bernina sewing machines. But its real strength lies in the owner’s experience and her ability to encourage quilters of all levels. She offers lessons, clubs, speakers and special events.
“We offer classes to people living in the Galena region, but we also cater to the many tourists who pass through town,” explains owner Jane Michals. “If people want to bring their friends in to learn a certain technique together, as part of a fun stay in Galena, all they need to do is call ahead and we set up a class for them.”
Such hands-on support is invaluable to hobbyists, she says. “There are many online classes these days, but nothing is better than having someone with you in person to show you how to do something.”
A “fat quarter” is a quarter-yard of fabric 18-by-22 inches rather than the standard 9-by-44. This better suits quilting and applique projects.
Hours: Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
1004 17th Ave., Monroe, Wis., (608) 328-2462
Owner Scott Buol is understandably proud of the quality treats his family has offered here since 1995.
“We make artisan chocolate treats all by hand, all on site,” he says. Among them are chocolate with nuts, crèmes, truffles, cherries and much more. Gertles, caramel apples and cheesecakes are available, too.
There’s also a wide selection of ice cream sundaes and other cold treats, “including 70 flavors of shakes,” Buol says.
If you need something to wash down all that tasty goodness, or just want to stop in for a pick-me-up, “We offer the largest selection of flavored coffees around, both regular and decaf.”
Dine inside or pick up something on the fly and enjoy it on the downtown Monroe square.
Chocolate Temptation is open Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Board & Brush
11361 Main St., Roscoe, Ill., (815) 270-1515, boardandbrush.com/roscoe
This business marries “the joy of wine and paint with the classic timelessness of wooden signs.” It’s a fun way to gather family or friends for a little fellowship and creative expression.
An instructor leads do-it-yourselfers through workshops geared to the age group. The business provides the instruction, materials and design for you to distress, sand, stain, paint and customize a wooden sign or other object, such as a clay flowerpot. You provide the creative juices.
Before buying this franchise, owner Sarah Doyle was a preschool/reading teacher who embraced her creative side. When she heard about this opportunity, she jumped at the chance to blend her twin passions for teaching and creating. She hosts birthday and bachelorette parties, bridal showers, team-building functions, fundraising events, after-school play dates, Girl Scout/Boy Scout troops and more.
Hours vary. Learn more on the website.
Wisconsin Wagon Co.
300 N. River St., Janesville, (608) 754-0026, wisconsinwagon.com
Those who yearn for sturdy, hand-made wooden toys of yesteryear need not despair. Retired master craftsmen in Janesville are still producing them. In fact, you can watch them work their magic during one-hour tours offered at the workshop location, 507 Laurel Ave., Janesville.
About 13 kinds of wooden products are displayed in the River Street showroom, including wagons and wheelbarrows, doll cradles and bunk beds, rocking horses and airplanes, sleds and toddler trikes. All of the designs are “historically relevant,” meaning they relate back to toys produced in Janesville more than 100 years ago that gained a national following. For example, the Janesville Coaster Wagon dates back to 1915 when the wagons were made by Janesville Products Co.
The Janesville Products Co. closed in 1940, unable to recover from devastation wrought by the Great Depression. In 1978, a retired businessman studied the design of the Janesville Coaster Wagon he cherished as a boy and developed a new line using the same techniques. His company was later purchased by local folks who enjoy keeping both the Janesville name and old-fashioned quality alive.
Showroom hours are Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. or by appointment. Call ahead to schedule a tour.