Businesses | Wisconsin thru my eyes
Wisconsin’s businesses --- lots of different things, bottom-to-top

The Maiden Rock Inn, on the Great River Trail: "Where sleeping in school is cool." The Western Uplands Geographic Region of Wisconsin extends from just north of St. Croix Falls to Wisconsin's southern border and spreads eastward in an irregular way through much of Eau Claire, Sauk, Dunn and Rock counties. It is wonderful country. I decided to spend a few days exploring the region to the north of Maiden Rock on The Mississippi River northeast to Hwy 10, eastward to Durand and south to Pepin on the Mississippi. I was most fortunate to find the Maiden Rock Inn Bed & Breakfast, owned and operated by Jennifer and Gary Peterson, the Inn's gracious hosts. I commend their website to you. Their presentation is quite professional. I'll try to supplement it as best I can. I will tell you one thing for sure: I slept like a rock at the Inn, even enjoying the trains traveling up and down the Mississippi's shoreline. April 10, 2018.

The Living Room, a fun and colorful store. On my way to Harrison Hills in northern Lincoln County, driving out of Merrill on Hwy 17, I came into Gleason and one of the most charming, colorful, fun artistic gift stores I've seen in a long time. The Living Room's building on the outside has been beaten up a bit over the years, which was the first sight to attract me. But the displays on the porch were enough to cause me to stop and pay a visit.

It was worth the time, though I am sure my wife would have spent hours walking around! May 14, 2017

Bay Shore Inn. The Bay Shore Inn is on the north side of Sturgeon Bay in Door County and on the east side of the Bay, not too far from where it empties into Green Bay. It once was a historic Inn and has maintained much of its original character. The Main Lodge is just marvelous, a great place in which to sit, relax and read. We stayed there once on our inaugural visit to Sturgeon Bay and just loved it. Our room faced the bay, we had marvelous weather, and it was about as relaxing as a place can be. July 3, 2016

Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace, Algoma. Well, this is a bit awkward. We visited the Flying Pig Gallery and Greenspace in July 2015, and have just now learned the management is looking for new owners. It is set along the uncluttered Lake Michigan shore in Kewaunee County. At present, it is hosting special events, indoors or out, offers limited retail and art space and outside its gardens are, as the owners say, "Wow." They describe them as "botanically chaotic gardens, ready for guests ad gatherings." We roamed through it all, and I am presenting a photo gallery below, almost exclusively on the outside gardens, they were so fascinating. April 11, 2016

Door County Candy. While strolling down North 3rd Ave. in Sturgeon Bay on an absolutely gorgeous day, I spotted these three young ladies comfortably planted on a sidewalk bench eating ice cream cones. It doesn't get any better than having those cones on a nice warm and sunny day. So I wondered where they might have gotten them, and looked quickly near where they were located and saw Door County Candy. Of course I had to go over there, look around, and get my own ice cream cone! January 19, 2016.

Dancing Bears Toys - Sturgeon Bay. Dancing Bear is Door County's old fashioned, small town, toy store. In 1994, Dancing Bear opened on Sturgeon Bay's Historic Third Avenue, becoming Door County's first year round toy store. It was an intriguing place from the outside, so I, 72 years young and holding at the tender age of six, simply had to go in, and of course I was overwhelmed with all the great toys I wanted. This will be a photo gallery of what I saw. January 10, 2016.

Heidel House Resort & Spa - "An oasis of relaxation" The Heidel House is located on the shores of Green Lake, the deepest inland lake in Wisconsin. It is a year-round full service resort. We stayed in mid-March, and the lake was still frozen over, though one would have to be careful as a thaw was underway. We had a wonderful time at the resort and visiting the Green Lake surroundings. September 4, 2015.

Whistling Straits,world-class golf course and clubhouse. Whistling Straits is one of two 36-hole links-style golf courses associated with The American Club, a luxury golf resort located near Kohler, Wisconsin and north of Sheboygan. The course is located on Lake Michigan and is among the very finest championship golf courses in the US. It has hosted the 2004, 2010 and 2015 PGA Championships and the 2007 U.S. Senior Open, and it is the future site of the 2020 Ryder Cup. The organization says this: "Open, rugged and windswept terrain defines the Straits, sculpted along two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Borrowing influences from Irish links courses, the Straits has fescue fairways and massive sand dune bunkers." September 3, 2015.

The Brewhaus Inn, living in the Pabst Brewery. "The future of Milwaukee's past!" Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee closed in 1996, but many of its buildings still stand. And they stand in Milwaukee's west side. Most of the former brewery buildings have been redeveloped into a hotel, apartments, offices and other new uses, with more projects in the works. And Pabst is returning to open a microbrewery in one of its old buildings. The Brewhaus Inn and Suites opened in a renovated Pabst Brewing Co. building at 1215 N 10th Street on June 20, 2013, in the heart of the old brewing complex. It's a real piece of history. I stayed there in March 2014. The weather outside was cold and raining, but I had a marvelous time here anyway.

Chippewa Retreat Resort - an all season resort in the Northwoods. The Chippewa Retreat Resort is not located on Manitowish Lake near Manitowish Waters up north. It offers Lakeside Villas, Lakeview Villas, and Treetop Villas and its own restaurant, called the White Oak Grill. I and my wife stayed here, and had a marvelous time in what we saw as a luxurious and well-appointed villa which was actually in a large building. This is a great place to stay whether just for two or a family reunion or a corporate retreat, or, of course, a wedding. August 24, 2015

Glorioso’s Italian Market, Milwaukee. During a recent, and my first, visit to Milwaukee I recalled I was running out of olive oil. Our regular grocery stores here in Wausau do not carry the good stuff in large cans --- I like bulk as I use so much, to cook just about everything. Then I learned about Glorioso’s Italian Market at 1011 East Brady Street. I’m a nut when it comes to a great deli. And this is a great deli. You can tell two things from across the street where you can park: it’s big, and the fragrances coming from it will bowl you over. I was overwhelmed with joy when I walked through the doors. Put me in a place like this and I’m worse than a little kid in a candy store. March 22, 2014.

Gooch’s A-One Bar & Grill, Boulder. My wife was trying to relive her youth when her family spent much of the summer over near Land O’Lakes and traveled through Boulder Junction. A stop her dad always made was at a place called Shrimp. Her memory of it was a little vague, but she recalled vividly that the interior was decorated with taxidermic animals from the north woods. Well, this was not much of a lead, but I am a great fan of brewskis, and I can sniff out a good place when I’m sniffing. We came across a place called Gooch’s A-1 Bar & Grill on CH M in Boulder Junction. She did not recognize the outside too well, but my sniffer caught a whiff of the place and I knew I had found it. So in we went, and sure enough there it was --- the place once known as Shrimp. I asked the lady in charge if I could take some photos and she was happy to let me do so. September 14, 2013.

LedgeStone Vineyards, at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment. I was visiting southeastern Wisconsin and decided to make my way back to Wausau through Fond du Lac City and DePere. I made my way up Hwy 32/57 on the east side of Lake Winnebago, the weather was not smashing, on and off drizzle. I happened upon, of all places I had not expected, a vineyard and winery, LedgeStone Vineyards. I was about eight miles south of DePere. It is at the foot of the southern section of what is known as the Niagara Escarpment, known as “The Ledge” in Greenleaf. July 22, 2012 updated July 30, 2012.

Jentzch Mink Farm, Medford. I was on my way home from a professional rodeo near Medford and spotted what I thought was an odd looking farm complex, most surely a design I had never seen. So I stopped, and learned this was the Jentzch Mink Farm. The US is the fifth largest producer of mink in the world. It turns out Wisconsin is the number one mink producer in the US. Cold climate is great to produce fur bearing animals with thick coats, so mink farming is concentrated in the northern states. The high-altitude sections of Utah rank number two behind Wisconsin.This is the first such farm I have seen. I’ve done a bit of research and have a few photos. July 11, 2011

The Nasonville Dairy, "A family tradition of quality. "I've passed by the Nasonville Dairy Retail Store on Hwy 29 many times. You cannot miss that bright yellow building! Heading our of Wausau, it's a few miles past the Abbotsford exit. Last May, I decided to stop in an have around. I had to stop by again in September to educate myself on the roles of the equipment. September 19, 2010.

Clearview Nursery, Weston, a walk through natural wonders. How life changes. In my younger days, a two hour drive to work in the Washington, DC area was normal. Now that I live in Wausau, driving ten miles out Schofield Ave. into neighboring Weston seems like a laborious undertaking. That is, until you get to the Clearview Nursery at 6414 Schofield Ave, Weston, Marathon County, just a stone's throw north of Hwy 29. Actually, my wife found it. She insisted I come out and partake of the beauty and hospitality, so I did. It's November 3, 2010, winter is any day now, and we won't break out of it until sometime in April if we're lucky. I shot these photos on July 10, 2010. Enjoy them through the winter and get psyched up for your spring and summer plantings. Be sure to visit Clearview Nursery if you can. November 3, 2010.

Marinette Marine, the Freedom combat ship and the lighterage cargo system. In mid-June 2007, while traveling through Marinette, Wisconsin, I came across Marinette Marine Corp., part of Manitowoc Marine Group, while it was building the first of the Navy’s USN Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Freedom. Back then, there was much to learn, and the construction site was closed, though visible form the other side of the river. Since then she has been launched and is on active duty. This report takes you from our first visit in 2007 through multiple updates to June 2010.

Minocqua's Little Brick House, and more. An argument can be made among people from Wisconsin that going to Minocqua in northern Oneida County is simply wading into mobs of tourists from Illinois and Indiana, and, of course, who wants to do that? I had been kind of like that. I had been there before, really only to drive in and out, through some very heavy traffic. But we had a beautiful day on September 6, 2009, and I decided, well, I'm going up there to see how "bad" it is. I have to tell you I had a wonderful time roaming around the town. January 24, 2010.

Schuster's Playtime Farm, and its Centennial Round Barn. A fellow named Craig "The Rooster" Roost introduced me to a project he undertook at Schuster's Playtime Farm at 1326 Hwy 12 & 18, in Deerfield, Dane County, east of Madison --- He rebuilt a cupola on an old round barn that was in a state of disrepair but has been undergoing preservation renovations since about 2001. I decided to drive over. It turns out, there's a lot of history behind round barns in general, and this one in particular. November 10, 2009.

New Glarus, a "Little Switzerland" in southern Wisconsin. I am not usually a fan of "theme cities," but I am a fan of this one, New Glarus, Wisconsin. Settled in the mid-19th century by 108 Swiss immigrants from canton Glarus, Switzerland, these pioneers built their town to where it is a fun and relaxing place to visit, a town that brings back great memories of my many visits to Switzerland. Perhaps what I like the most are the many small businesses here hosted in old buildings that have retained their magnificent historic character. I'll give you a tour of the town and focus your attention on some of these businesses. October 3, 2008

The Handcrafted Furniture Co. of Wausau, Marathon County, is one each marvelous place to buy top-quality furniture at reasonable prices. I have bought multiple pieces there, ordered to my specifications, and I will tell you that they are heirloom quality, period. The company was established in 1987 has its store on 6th St. and Bridge in East Wausau. The company also has a manufacturing plant in the Wausau West Industrial Park. It usually has anywhere from 5-9 workers and sales between $1 to $2.5 million annually. The company is owned by Steve Woller, who incidentally, is mightily involved in hot air balloons. September 6, 2009

Bear Valley Perennials. We visited Bear Valley Perennials in August 2007. It was a mecca of floral wonder. It has since been sold, and when we visited in September 2008, well, the beauty of the work was gone. Enjoy the photos of the natural beauty of what this place was, truly a magnetic attraction. We found it driving west on Hwy 60 out of Sauk City in southwestern Wisconsin, and turned to the north and spotted it on the corner of Durst Rd. and Hwy 130. If you are in the area, stop by and see what shape she’s in. August 7, 2007, updated September 28, 2008.

Cannon Valley Percherons and the Olson Century Farm. Most often while driving around Wisconsin we see machinery and men ploughing the fields of the state powered by combustion engines. While sliding down the Cannon Valley of southwest Monroe County, we spotted machinery and a man ploughing the fields with two horses and a puppy. We would learn the horses are Percherons, a special breed originally from France, a majestic and powerful breed able to take on tough jobs such as ploughing and memorable jobs such as drawing a marriage carriage. We met Jim Olson and Lady and Sandy and Jim was kind enough to put his team through a routine for us to watch, photograph and enjoy. June 23, 2008.

Justin Trails Resort. I've grown aggravated with hotels. For a recent trip, we stayed at a B&B, Justin Trails Resort, outside Sparta in Monroe County. As the owners say, this is a "healing refuge for recreation, relaxation and rejuvenation for our guests." When you stay at Justin Trails, you stay at a well-appointed working farm nestled in the hills of Monroe County with tons of trails and a with a vista that is simply remarkable, from any compass heading. By Ed Marek, editor. May 18, 2008.

Flambeau River Papers, Park Falls. Park Falls in northern Price County boasts that it blends nature with industry. This story will most certainly underscore the truth of that. This is a story about economic activity in progress, where a paper mill central to a town's economy was closed, a group of local investors and businesspeople took the bull by the horn to re-open it, and took the next step, reaching "one rung higher" to invest in and pursue new technologies that have the potential to make the plant energy self-sufficient and enable it to produce new kinds of ethanol fuels to sell. This company among the only ones embarking on this road. There are plenty of unknowns and risks, but their road is filled with excitement and great, perhaps even endless possibilities. This is an outfit worth watching, and a town and area worth visiting. By Ed Marek, editor. February 1, 2008.

Shihata's Orchard and Apple House. Shortly after pulling out of Prairie du Chien on Highway 27 N, we spotted a sign telling us to turn to the left to Shihata's Orchard. Having driven through Missouri and Illinois, we were eager to get a pumpkin, but we insisted on a Wisconsin pumpkin, so we took a hard left on Limery Road. It was morning, there was a pretty heavy overcast, but nonetheless a beautiful setting. This is what is so neat about Shihata's: it is situated in the beautiful setting of Crawford County's location in the heart of the Upper Mississippi bluff country, with landscape very remindful of the lower sections of the Appalachians, having a very rustic appearance and terrific vistas. We came in to get a pumpkin. By the time we headed out the door, we had a whole bunch of apples, Honey, vidalia onion relish, acorn squash, butternut squash, and, oh yes, a big pumpkin. And we had some moments to really enjoy life. October 23, 2007, updated May 11, 2011 after second visit.

Blue Vista Farm, "a taste of heaven". Eric Carlson and Ellen Kwiatowski are the owners of the Blue Vista farm in Bayfield, Wisconsin. They say this: "This land is more than just fruit and flower plantings, a beautiful old barn and remarkable view. Something unexplainable comes together in this spot to create an unforgettable experience. Over and over again, customers tell us that they feel like they are in heaven and we feel that way as well. We consider ourselves privileged to be caretakers of this land and we want to share it with you." It can't be said any better. September 26, 2007.

Halvorson's Fisheries on Lake Superior. When you visit Cornucopia on the north side of Wisconsin's Bayfield peninsula, protruding out into Lake Superior, if it's painted green, it's part of Halvorson's Fisheries. Phil Moy, writing for the the April-May 2001 issue of Lake Superior Magazine, commented then, "We must not take the fisheries of Lake Superior for granted; they are a gift that must be nurtured and cherished." That certainly holds true for Halvorson's. August 11, 2007

American Buffalo are actually Bisons, and Wisconsin farmers are raising them. If you are heading east out of Ladysmith on Route 8 toward Tony in Rusk County, and you are paying attention, you will see a bunch of bison grazing off on the right. It turns out that Wisconsin ranks 10th largest in the nation as a bison producing state and number three in the total number of bison producers. That said, the industry is small and done as an "extra duty." But it can be profitable. April 29, 2007.

Fox Run Equestrian Center. We happened across this equestrian center in early August 2006, and spotted a young woman training with a darn good lookin' horse and a trainer out in the paddock. As luck would have it, we bumped into a great story, an uplifting one that will make your pitter-patter go heart-heart. October 19, 2006, updated with some new photos April 14, 2007.

Willow Wood Lodge, wilderness on the Tomahawk and the Willow Flowage. Our visits to the Willow Wood Lodge astride the massive and wild Willow Reservoir-Flowage and Tomahawk River introduced us to a neat geographic learning experience and plenty of fun recreational opportunities. We also saw first hand what a small dam can do to a low lying region and how it can harness the enormous power of regional watersheds. December 20, 2006.

Robbins Sports Surfaces, White Lake. This is an amazing world. You all probably know that. But while "bumming around" Langlade County on a typical "get-lost" ride, we came into the very small and quiet town of White Lake. Quiet, maybe, but packed with great logging industry history that led the town to manufacture the very finest in contemporary sports flooring. October 3, 2006, updated with great old-time photography, October 19, 2006.

Oak Ridge Vineyard and Weggy's Winery. Richland County in southwest Wisconsin has landscape that knocks your socks off. Last winter, we came across Oakridge Vineyard, the creation and home of Weggy Winery, up in the hills. Having always thought of Wisconsin as beer country, it never occurred to us one could develop a vineyard well enough here to bottle wine. Well, they're doing it here. We went back in the summer. In our winter photos, you'll get a great feel for the expanse and beauty of the country. In the summer photos, you'll fall in love with the vines and grapes. August 4, 2006

Iron Corral Exotic Animal Farm in Viola, a fun learning experience: Breeding of exotic animals is a fascinating and rapidly growing business in the US, especially as agriculture is becoming tougher and tougher and small farmers especially are looking for alternative pursuits that would employ their land and their equipment and enable them to maintain their homes. It is also a good pursuit if a farmer has marginal land for traditional livestock and agriculture. Sandy and Joe Cano run one in Viola in Vernon County, and are pioneers in the field. April 19, 2006

Dupont Cheese, Marion. Seemingly in the middle of no-where pops up Dupont Cheese.

Virtually on the "corner" of County C and highway 102, in a very rural area we later found out belongs to the town of Marion, in the northeast sector of Waupaca County.

It had a retail outlet in front, so in we went. April 4, 2006

Adamski's Sugar Bush. This is the time to think "maple syrup." Pancakes. Waffles. On the veggies. The barbecue. Or how about on your coffee cake or cereal. Now we're cookin'. So meet the Adamski's Sugar Bush of Antigo, Wisconsin. We bumped into the family at work in the field and at the sugarhouse. They made our visit a lot of fun. We arrived unexpectedly, they did know us at all, but their hospitality, grace, and eagerness to teach made for a great afternoon. March 29, 2006