Biz Buzz: New Lancaster antique shop; Guttenberg businesses fill niche; Epworth businesses open

Business tips sought

Do you have an interesting story or news tip to share about a local business? Ideas can be shared with TH Managing Editor Dustin Kass at or 563-588-5663.

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from the tri-states. In this edition, we highlight developments in Lancaster, Wis., and Epworth and Guttenberg, Iowa.

A Lancaster native has returned to his hometown and fulfilled a dream of opening an antique shop, with proceeds benefiting a local nonprofit.

John Myers is the owner of JEM Antiques at 135 W. Maple St., Suite 2. He has collected antiques all his life and has amassed a vast collection, from lamps and knickknacks to pottery and pillows.

“I always thought that in my retirement, I wanted to open an antique shop,” he said.

After years of living in Middleton, Wis., Myers recently moved back to rural Lancaster and opened JEM Antiques in December. The name is drawn from his initials: His full name is John Edward Myers.

Aside from the money he will use to pay rent, all proceeds from sales at JEM Antiques will benefit Grant County Humane Society. The nonprofit currently operates out of a veterinary clinic in Lancaster and seeks to construct a standalone facility.

“My wife passed away three years ago, and before she did, we talked about how we’d like to give something back to the community we grew up in,” Myers said. “There’s a need for (the humane society) in Grant County, and so that’s what I started to work with.”

For now, Myers is stocking the shop with his own collection of antiques. If supplies run low, he might look to donations or consignment to replenish the store’s shelves.

“I’ve got a lot of stuff, so it’s going to last a while,” he said with a chuckle.

Myers said he hopes the store will appeal to locals, tourists and tri-state area residents like himself who are interested in antiques.

“When you get into antiques, it becomes more of a destination thing,” he said. “ … I think it’ll draw people into Lancaster.”

JEM Antiques is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The business can be reached via Facebook or by email at

Boutique, nutrition club fill niche in Guttenberg

In launching her boutique and nutrition club, Guttenberg resident Brandie Tomkins sought to fill a gap in the town’s shopping options.

Tomkins opened RiverFront Boutique in September, followed by Downtown Nutrition in December. Both businesses are located at 316 S. River Park Drive.

“Guttenberg didn’t really have a boutique, and boutique shopping has always been one of my passions … so I just took it and ran,” Tomkins said.

She began by selling clothing at the local farmers market last summer before expanding to a brick-and-mortar shop. RiverFront Boutique now sells women’s clothes along with items such as candles and soaps from local artisans.

Meanwhile, Downtown Nutrition offers teas, coffees, shakes and other beverages made with Herbalife Nutrition products.

Tomkins said both businesses have found favor with area residents.

“We started right at the end of our tourist season, so we really relied on locals to support us, which they’ve been doing really well,” she said.

RiverFront Boutique and Downtown Nutrition are open from 7:15 to 9 a.m. and 3:30 to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The businesses can be reached at 563-552-6027 or via Facebook.

Epworth welcomes 2 new businesses

Two new businesses in adjoining Epworth storefronts aim to bring new products and services to the small town.

Route 20 Boutique at 103 E. Main St. and Plein De Vie Wellness at 101 E. Main St. hosted a joint grand opening on Sunday.

Route 20 Boutique is owned by Ashley Konzen, of Dyersville, Iowa, and Epworth residents Lisa Kramer, Abby Oberfoell and Connie Connolly.

In their shop, the four offer infant, toddler, children’s and women’s clothing, along with toys, books and accessories such as baby swaddles, rattles and fidget toys.

Konzen said Route 20 Boutique aims to appeal to a wide range of shoppers, from high-schoolers to parents and families.

“Epworth’s really been growing, and we really wanted to bring something to the town that we don’t have,” she said.

Next door, licensed massage therapist Jade O’Connell and certified health and life coach Andrea Mausser are operating Plein De Vie Wellness.

O’Connell previously operated massage therapy businesses in Dubuque and Farley, Iowa. At the Epworth location, she will continue to offer massage services and hopes to expand into acupuncture and oriental medicine, as she is pursuing certifications in both areas.

Mausser will offer wellness coaching, with a focus on helping clients improve their health, relationships, careers, finances and spiritual connections.

“Our mindset is at the root of all that, and I’m looking forward to helping (clients) with the right service, support and accountability,” she said.

Both women said they hope to bring an emphasis on holistic healing to the Epworth area. “Plein De Vie” means “full of life” in French and encompasses the pair’s goal for their business, according to O’Connell.

“We want you to feel our wellness center feeling invigorated, full of life (and) in optimal health, both spiritually, mentally and physically,” she said.

Route 20 Boutique is open from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. The business can be reached via Facebook and Instagram or by emailing

Plein De Vie Wellness is open by appointment only and can be reached via Facebook.