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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In this edition, we highlight developments in Lancaster and Platteville, Wis., and Maquoketa, Iowa.
A Lancaster family farm whose ice cream products have seen soaring demand now is offering the dairy desserts in local stores.
Vesperman Farms announced last week that pints of its ice cream are available in 11 area stores. These include Okey’s Market in Cassville, Wis., Bloomington (Wis.) Stop N Go and Thompson’s IGA in Cuba City, Wis., as well as all Hartig Drug and Hy-Vee locations in Dubuque.
Owner Kyle Vesperman said the farm began offering ice cream in 2019. He had been seeking a food product to produce on the farm and sell locally outside the farm’s busy fall season. A local dairy farmer suggested ice cream, and Vesperman was sold.
“It’s kind of a comfort food and nostalgic,” he said. “Who doesn’t love ice cream?”
In January 2019, Vesperman attended a short course at University of Wisconsin-Madison to learn the basics of making small-batch ice cream.
That summer, Vesperman Farms tested the waters by giving away ice cream. After that was received positively, it started selling ice cream from a truck in 2020. Demand was so high that a second truck was added in 2021.
Last summer, the trucks made more than 200 stops in the tri-state area at events such as music festivals, weddings, open houses and community gatherings. Customers gobbled up freshly scooped ice cream and purchased pints to take home, spurring Vesperman Farms staff to pursue stocking its products in local stores this winter.
Vesperman said last week’s announcement was met with enthusiasm from store managers and customers.
“There’s definitely people interested in it and very excited about ice cream — in January,” he said with a laugh.
Vesperman Farms offers 12 standard flavors, including classics such as strawberry and vanilla and unique options such as sea salt caramel and brownie fudge. Flavors vary at each store.
More information is available by visiting vespermanfarms.com or calling 608-723-2712.
Appliance store plans move
It might only be a distance of a half-mile, but an upcoming move will make a significant difference for a Maquoketa appliance business.
Appliance Solutions, currently located at 117 S. Second St., will move to 509 E. Platt St. later this month.
The business sells and services kitchen and laundry appliances, including products from KitchenAid, Maytag, Whirlpool and Amana.
Ashley Prull owns Appliance Solutions with her husband, Ryan. She said the business has outgrown its current footprint, and the move will allow it to expand.
Currently, Appliance Solutions is renting storage units to hold some of its appliances. The Platt Street location will boast a more-than-3,000-square-foot showroom and more than 5,000 square feet of warehouse and storage space.
“Also, it’s got a big parking lot, so it’s good for unloading appliances,” Ashley said. “It fits all of our needs, and it’ll be nice to be right on Platt Street, too.”
Ashley said the building, which previously housed B&C Liquor, required a complete remodel.
“We pretty much gutted the inside — new carpet, new paint, new desks, new ceiling,” she said.
Appliance Solutions hopes to be operating in its new location by the end of February. The business can be reached at 563-652-6577.
Quilting retreat house opens
The longtime owner of a Platteville, Wis., quilt shop has transformed one of the city’s historic homes into a “retreat house” for quilters and crafters of all types.
Carol Long has owned Hidden Quilts at 85 W. Main St. for nearly 20 years. The shop sells fabric, patterns, books and other quilting materials, and it hosts a variety of quilting-related classes and clubs.
“I try to have a little bit of everything,” Long said.
Now, she will add one more needle to that pincushion.
In December, Long and her husband, Richard, purchased the historic DeWitt House at 345 W. Main St. in Platteville. The brick home was constructed in 1907 and features elegant wood floors, window seats, a furnished kitchen and four bedrooms with a balcony.
Long intends to rent out the house for groups of quilters and other crafters who go on retreats, calling it The DeWitt House “A Stitch in Time.”
She attends a yearly quilting retreat and described it as an opportunity for passionate quilters to focus on their projects without distractions.
“You don’t have to do laundry, fix supper, care for the kids — you can just sit there and sew for as long as you want,” she said. “I have been known to stay up until 3 in the morning sewing. We try not to cut after a certain time of the night, though, because you’re more liable to have an accident.”
Long said she already booked three quilting groups at the house in the coming months. She also has been approached by groups interested in scrapbooking and hand embroidery, and she said she is open to offering the house for events such as weddings or reunions, though craft groups are her focus.
Long said she feels the DeWitt House guests will help boost business at other local shops, restaurants and venues as well.
“It’s going to bring people to Platteville, and they’re naturally going to take the time to see what Platteville offers,” she said.
More information is available by calling Hidden Quilts at 608-348-4977.