Biz Buzz: Dubuque business eyes new location; cruise line sells out voyages; siblings open waxing studio

Joe Widmeier (center) along with his employees Brian Blodgett (left) and Bob Duax look over the plans for the new location of the Dubuque store. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-state area. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque.

Every single day on his commute to work, Joe Widmeier would drive past the Slumberland building in Dubuque and dream about the possibilities.

“I always thought, ‘I would love to be in this spot right here’,” recalled Widmeier, the owner of Widmeier Flooring. “I always thought about that possibility and then it happened. My day-dreaming has turned into a reality.”

Widmeier Flooring is poised to move from its current location, 5205 Pennsylvania Ave., to its new one, at 4390 Dodge St., in March.

The building at 4390 Dodge is currently occupied by Slumberland Furniture, which will soon relocate to the Plaza 20 Shopping Center.

Widmeier said the building on Dodge Street boasts 25,000 square feet, more than double the space at the Pennsylvania Avenue location. This will allow the business to significantly expand the selection of furniture on display in its showroom.

“We’ll probably have three to four times the space to expand on what we are doing now,” said furniture manager Bob Duax.

Widmeier Flooring was founded in 2005. It originally focused exclusively on flooring products and services, but later added furniture to the mix as well.

From the very beginning, an emphasis on family has been at the core of the business.

Joe’s father, Tim, installed flooring, and Joe was introduced to the industry when he would accompany his father to work. Tim died in 2018, but his memory is still alive and well at the business.

“He was my right-hand man,” Joe recalled. “It has been bittersweet (planning for the new location). I know he would be very excited and very proud.”

Multiple generations of the Widmeier family continue to play important roles in the business. The familial emphasis trickles down to those who are not blood related.

Flooring manager Brian Blodgett said that emphasis trickles down to all workers.

“There is an expectation that goes along with working inside the family here and it really brings a level of excellence from everyone involved,” Blodgett said.

Widmeier Flooring currently employs 10 workers, including installers. It will likely add four to six new employees once it has moved locations.

Widmeier Flooring can be reached at 563-690-2211.

CRUISING FORWARD

A cruise company that will soon be docking in Dubuque has reported massive sales for its inaugural year of Upper Mississippi River excursions.

Viking River Cruises recently announced that it has sold out its Upper Mississippi River cruises for 2022. This includes two separate cruises that dock in Dubuque: one that travels between St. Louis and St. Paul and another that travels between New Orleans and St. Paul.

The quick sellout for 2022 dates has already inspired Viking to add more cruise dates for the following year.

The City of Dubuque has struck a 20-year deal with Viking to build a dock near Grand Harbor Resort and Water Park.

Travel Dubuque President and CEO Keith Rahe said this could have a major impact on local businesses.

“It is another way for people to come in and see what we have to offer,” said Rahe. “To have Viking, with that international brand, coming into Dubuque, that will be a big thing for our market.”

Rahe said Viking ships typically provide sleeping accommodations for customers, so they wouldn’t be staying overnight at Dubuque hotels. However, the ships dock for up to nine hours, meaning customers will be given ample time to visit Dubuque.

“That gives people a lot of time to explore Dubuque and do things,” Rahe said.

SIBLING DYNAMIC

A sibling duo has opened a new, multi-faceted building within the Millwork District.

Gaia Waxing Beauty & Wellness Studio opened its doors at 1065 Jackson St. on Tuesday, according to co-owner Luis Morteo.

The business provides a variety of services, including waxing, cosmetology, massage and plasma skin therapy. It also provides a variety of body care products.

Morteo and his sister, Chrystina Morteo, joined forces to make the new endeavor possible. Chrystina has operated Gaia Waxing at

485 Locust since the spring of 2018. Meanwhile, Luis had previously operated Misfits Massage & Spa on Central Avenue.

The Morteos moved both businesses to the Millwork District and took over a space that was formerly occupied by 1065 Salon, according to Luis. They also absorbed some of that studio’s workers as part of the transition.

Luis said that working alongside his sister will be key to the operation’s success.

“We’ve always been close,” he said. “We’re able to bounce ideas off each other and we have strengths and weaknesses on the opposite spectrum of each other.”

The business is open Tuesday through Saturday by appointment. It can be reached at 630-808-3310.