Biz Buzz: Dubuque company offers luxury sleepovers; new ‘selfie’ store coming; longtime company makes monumental move

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In this edition, we feature multiple developments in Dubuque.

A couple of months ago, Dubuque resident Annie Farber decided she wanted to do something special for her daughter’s 10th birthday party.

“I told her she could either have a really awesome birthday party or more gifts,” Farber recalled. “It felt like her birthday was canceled last year because of COVID, so we wanted to do something special.”

Farber’s daughter chose the party, and the ensuing process inspired the launch of a new kind of business in Dubuque.

This fall, Farber launched Sleepover City, a “luxury party rental” company that provides tents, decor and more for themed children’s birthday parties.

Farber decided to start her own business after struggling to bring the pieces together for her child’s party. She called similar companies in several surrounding metros — including Madison, Wis., and Davenport, Iowa — but those companies were too swamped with orders to accommodate the Farber family’s request.

Farber decided to create the themed party on her own — and to more seriously consider turning what seemed to be a one-time undertaking into a full-fledged business.

“I’ve followed a bunch of different companies that do this type of thing, as far as Plano, Texas,” Farber said. “Many are booked solid.”

Sleepover City offers a range of packages, with the cheapest starting at $250 and including tents, lights, signs and decorative pillows. Setup and teardown are included.

Higher-priced arrangements include add-ons such as games, favor bags and decorative centerpieces.

After unofficially launching the company with her daughter’s party, Farber has been throwing parties for local clients and booking contracts for upcoming gatherings.

She noted that her 10-year-old daughter, Bianca, and 7-year old-daughter, Cece, assist with social media, marketing and setup for the business.

Sleepover City can be reached at 515-661-9960, and customers can learn more by visiting


A store that will arrive soon in Dubuque’s Kennedy Mall will aim to ride the social media wave.

Let’s Go Viral will open within the next month in the mall space formerly occupied by clothing store Justice, according to mall spokesman Joe Bell. He said the business will be a self-service photography studio that allows customers to take photos with a variety of different backgrounds.

“There are a lot of people who are into this whole selfie scene and want to be social media influencers,” Bell said. “This will give them a variety of background options in a professionally lit area that is great for taking pictures.”

Customers generally pay to use the space for an allotted time, according to Bell. He noted that similar businesses already have proven successful in a variety of shopping centers owned by Cafaro Co., which owns Kennedy Mall.

While the space might be most popular among teens and adults in their 20s, Bell said a broader demographic — including adults in their 30s and 40s — has enjoyed the offering at other Cafaro properties. Customers often like to take unique pictures and post them to social media platforms, he added.

Bell said the offering fits into a broader attempt to make the mall a diverse attraction with a variety of interactive experiences.

“This is another piece in the puzzle of what we are trying to do here at the mall,” he said.


A longtime Dubuque business has moved into a new, expanded location.

Brannon Monument relocated to its new home at 2100 Stonehill Drive in the second week of November, according to owner Mike Brannon. The site formerly housed Key West True Value.

Brannon Monument’s new location boasts two and a half times the square footage as its previous one, as well as expanded outdoor storage space and parking.

Brannon said he is energized by the thought of starting a new chapter for the longtime company.

“Monuments are a part of history, and our business has a lot of history here,” Brannon said. “It is exciting to be able to grow a family business.”

Brannon Monument was founded in Dubuque in 1926. It had resided downtown throughout its history prior to the recent move, including spending the past 25 years at 1310 White St.

Brannon noted that moving to a new location required significant time and resources, due to the materials and equipment used in the industry. Crews had to transport large volumes of granite, as well as heavy tools such as sandblasting booths, compressors and laser-etching machines.

“Pardon the pun, but it was a monumental effort,” he said. “We made the move over a number of months.”

Brannon emphasized that the new location boasts a larger showroom, as well as an expanded conference room.

“Through these changes, we are enhancing the customer experience,” he said. “That is the most important thing about the move.”

The extra work and storage space also benefits the company as it services locations elsewhere in Iowa. Brannon Monument also operates facilities in Manchester and Cedar Rapids.

Brannon Monument’s Dubuque location can be reached at 563-583-6318. It is currently open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Brannon indicated plans are in motion for the future of the company’s old facility on White Street. However, he said he could not yet share specifics about its upcoming use.