Biz Buzz: Art studio closes location, plots new chapter; upscale bar opens in Galena; consignment shop finds stride in Dubuque

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states each Tuesday. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Galena, Ill.

A Dubuque artist is closing her Radford Road studio but emphasized that another chapter awaits in her artistic career.

Sarah Barnes, the owner of Create It art studio, confirmed that her location at 1750 Radford Road will close by the week’s end. Over the past four years, Barnes had utilized that location to sell art and to hold art classes.

“Teaching people how to paint is so rewarding. It’s been such a blessing,” she said. “Watching people create a painting brings me so much joy.”

The studio was largely a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Barnes.

The pandemic led to a temporary, mandated closure of the facility and, ever since, has had significant lingering impacts on the business.

She noted that the studio previously generally hosted classes of 15 to 30 people. Even after reopening, class sizes often were only three or four people due to ongoing fears of the virus.

The Radford Road location marked only one part of a decorated artistic career.

Barnes studied art at Loras College and later went into business with her mother, Jeanelle Page, who was a local artist for decades. Later in her career, Barnes did extensive commission work and later worked for multiple years as a muralist.

She started Create It studio about seven years ago and moved the business to its current location four years ago.

While the pandemic put a big dent in her business, it also gave Barnes time to think about her future. And she has emerged with a steadfast resolve to begin a new chapter of her business.

Barnes said she is looking for new locations, adding that she has explored possibilities in the downtown as well as the West End.

“I hope to be in another location by October,” she said.

She still will sell art and conduct mobile art classes in the meantime. Customers can reach the business by visiting or calling 563-590-8404.


A new, upscale bar has opened within a Galena hotel.

Birch Lounge opened last month within the Ramada at 11383 U.S. 20.

Hotel Manager Betsy Achett believes the bar offers qualities that can be difficult to find in Galena.

“Galena has quite a few bars, but not many options outside of the downtown area,” she said. “When you are coming from Wisconsin or Iowa, and you first get to Galena, this is a nice option.”

Achett also emphasized that the location has a plethora of parking, something that has been in shorter supply for patrons of downtown businesses.

The Ramada inn previously housed a small bar that was open only to hotel guests. Achett said crews conducted “extensive renovations” to create Birch Lounge, which is now open to the public.

The bar frequently hosts live music, with an emphasis on easy-listening and jazz.

“Bars can often be loud and boisterous,” said Achett. “This is a very relaxing atmosphere that we have here.”

She said the bar soon will introduce a menu featuring small-plate items. Two employees have been hired to staff the location.

The Ramada in Galena can be reached at 815-777-2043.


A Dubuque entrepreneur with more than a quarter-century of experience is making her mark in the city’s Millwork District.

Audrey Wallis recently marked the one-year anniversary of opening her furniture and interior design business within the Novelty Iron Works Building, 333 E. 10th St. In that time, the business has experienced growth, shifted its location within the structure and changed its name.

The business, originally known as Audrey Wallis Interiors, is now known as The Consignment Store. True to its name, it sells a vast selection of softly used, middle- and high-end furniture on a consignment basis.

In addition to selling furniture, the business refurbishes furniture and offers interior design consultation services.

“In my consultation work, I work closely and personally with the client so (the design) reflects their personality,” Wallis said.

She brings extensive experience to the table. She previously operated an interior design business in the 900 block of Bluff Street for 25 years.

The location in the Millwork District draws a different type of customer, she said.

“I get a lot of out-of-town customers,” Wallis said. “A lot of our business comes from tourism. It’s my goal to get more local residents to come down here.”

Starting during the pandemic slowed the business in its early stages, but Wallis feels it is now hitting its stride. It moved from a relatively small space in the Novelty Iron Works Building to a much larger area on the Washington Street side of the property.

With COVID-19 infections rates declining, Wallis is seeing an increase in shoppers and in consigners.

“A lot more people are coming in, and we are getting a greater variety of options,” she said. “I am going to auctions, too, and getting some great items at decent prices. The growth has been great recently.”

The Consignment Store is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. It can be reached at 563-581-5416.