Biz Buzz: Boutique opens in Dubuque; movie theater plots return; professional development program emerges

Morgan Schmitt opened You. Boutique in late May at 471 W. Fourth St. in Dubuque, at the base of the Fenelon Place Elevator. Schmitt says being next to one of the city’s top tourist attractions brings plenty of foot traffic. PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY

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

Five months after debuting as an online-only boutique, a Dubuque women’s clothing business is settling into its first physical location.

You. Boutique opened in late May at 471 W. Fourth Street, filling a recently vacated space near the foot of the Fenelon Place Elevator.

Owner Morgan Schmitt believes her growing business has found the perfect home.

“The number of tourists and the amount of foot traffic in this part of town is incredible,” Schmitt said. “I always dreamed of being down here.”

You. Boutique sells women’s clothing, shoes and handmade jewelry. The business now occupies the former home of another locally owned retailer, The Midwest Girl, which relocated to the city’s Millwork District

Schmitt launched the business in January after seeing multiple clothing stores, including Younkers, close shop in recent years.

“I felt like I was being pushed to go out of town more often to find clothes,” she said. “Instead of taking my business out of town, I decided to start something new here in Dubuque.”

The business began to gain traction as an online-only venture. However, Schmitt said she knew a traditional storefront would be a key to her boutique’s success.

“I always felt like people needed to touch the clothes to really understand the quality and the time I spent picking them out,” she said.

You. Boutique is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Customers can also continue to shop online by visiting youboutiquedbq.com.

Clarke targets professional DEVELOPMENT

A local university soon will roll out a new online program geared toward working professionals.

Clarke University’s Institute for Professional Excellence will launch its new CareerPLUS program on July 1, institute Director Liz Kruse said.

The program will offer multiple, self-paced “micro courses” aimed to improve participants’ skills in a variety of essential areas, including leadership, communication, data analysis, diversity and inclusion and innovation.

“These courses are geared toward a professional audience,” Kruse said. “They are perfect for adult learners who want to grow in their career, either by advancing in their current job or pivoting to a different type of position.”

Courses, designed and facilitated by Clarke personnel, begin on the first day of every month and involve 15 hours of self-paced learning within a four-week period.

Those interested in the program can learn more by visiting careerplus@clarke.edu.

CLOSER TO REOPENING

A local theater last week took additional steps toward reopening in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including limiting seating capacity, and announced a partnership with a local film festival.

Cory Jacobson, owner of Phoenix Theatres in Dubuque, said workers will be taking a variety of extra precautions to meet guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Staff members also spent time numbering theater seats. Jacobson said this will allow the business to incorporate a new system through which customers can reserve specific seats online. The program that will automatically space out seating arrangements, eliminating seats next to those reserved, to allow for proper social distancing between groups.

Jacobson said the business is targeting a July 10 reopening.

Plans also are materializing for which films will be shown upon reopening.

The scant lineup of new films poised for release in July has grown in recent weeks, Jacobson said. He said Phoenix is now planning to show four new, big-studio releases: the mystery thriller “Unhinged;” drama “Broken Hearts Gallery;” spy film “Tenet;” and Disney live-action release “Mulan.”

Jacobson also confirmed that Phoenix Theatres will be setting aside multiple screens in July to show films from the Dubuque-based Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.

The festival’s executive director, Susan Gorrell, confirmed the collaboration will include features, documentaries and short films, some of which were previously shown in 2019 and some of which were slated to be shown at the festival in 2020.

“This will give us an opportunity to show these films in a theater atmosphere,” Gorrell said. “I think that’s something people have really missed this year.”