Biz Buzz: New owner at helm of Dubuque auction company; Maquoketa business plans merger; clothing boutique makes move

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. In this edition, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Maquoketa, Iowa, and Elizabeth, Ill.

After 30 years, a Dubuque auction business is under new ownership.

Ron Heim took over as owner of H&J Auction Service in January and recently completed his first auction as the business’s owner.

“I started (helping with auctions) in 1980,” he said. “I enjoyed helping with the farm sales, helping set up the machinery for the sales. I really enjoyed it, so I decided to get into the auction business.”

H&J Auction Service was founded in 1992 by Ed Hess and Arden “Doc” Johnston, with whom Heim said he has worked in the past.

“I planned 30 years ago that this day was going to come for me,” Heim said. “When Doc and Ed decided to retire, I talked to them about buying the business, and they said they’d give me the first chance.”

Heim plans to keep the H&J Auction Service moniker.

“It’s been out there for 30 years, and it’s well known,” he said. “(Hess and Johnston) have been well known for that long, and they had good sales.”

Heim used to help the auctioneers set up auctions and pack items. Now, he organizes the sales, does all related paperwork and owns the auction equipment, which includes a cashier trailer and a truck equipped with a sound system.

Going forward, Heim hopes to offer a wide range of auctions, including household, farm and antique sales.

“A lot of these people enjoy the older furniture and stuff,” he said. “They can buy it a heck of a lot cheaper than downtown and get into old antique stuff that you can’t buy today.”

The most important lesson Heim said he learned from his predecessors was how to work with people, which he looks forward to doing more of as he continues in his ownership role.

“I just enjoy the people,” he said. “I like talking to people and getting to know a lot of different people.”

H&J Auctions can be reached at 563-583-0321.

Maquoketa eye health service to merge with DeWitt office

A Maquoketa eye health office will merge into a DeWitt, Iowa, office to increase services for patients.

Maquoketa Eyecare, 101 N. Main St., will merge into DeWitt Eyecare later this year, according to Jacob Hayward, who owns both offices.

“It came down to, ‘Hey, what’s going to be the best for our patients and staff?’” Hayward said. “This is going to be ideal in the new building that we’re putting up.”

The new building will be across from DeWitt’s Spahn & Rose location, he said, though the new office does not yet have an official address. The Maquoketa office will close.

Hayward said the merger started being discussed after the COVID-19 pandemic and retirements brought the number of providers that covered both offices from two to one.

“Right now, the Maquoketa office was only open one day a week,” he said. “Now (with the merger), they will have access to us five days a week, so there will be more accessibility.”

The new location also will allow for expanded services, such as a larger eyeglass frame selection and an in-house lab to make adjustments to the glasses.

Hayward said he hopes officials will break ground on the new building in March and be operational by December.

“I actually grew up in Maquoketa myself,” he said. “It’s always been a desire or a dream to establish a patient base in Maquoketa, and we’ve done a great job of growing something there. Now, we can send them up to a state-of-the-art facility and continue the great care they’ve already been receiving.”

Maquoketa Eyecare can be reached at 563-652-2020.

Vintage clothing boutique makes move in Jo Daviess County

A boutique that primarily sells vintage clothing has moved from Galena, Ill., into a larger space in Elizabeth.

The Trip Galena now has a space on the third floor of Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co., 300 West St. The boutique retained its moniker even after the move.

The business started two years ago as an online clothing store run by Galena couple Chris and Van Donovan. They had a stall at Galena Antique Mall last year before moving into the space in Elizabeth.

The couple also has vintage accessories and home goods, though their boutique primarily focuses on clothing. Items date from the 1880s to the early 2000s, but the Donovans focus on items from the 1960s and 1970s.

“For me, part of my mission here is I really want to encourage people in the Dubuque, Galena and Elizabeth area to be really creative and experimental in the way that they dress,” Chris said. “Part of what we do at The Trip is making that accessible to people.”

She said the idea to start a boutique came after she and Van met five years ago and discovered they both had large collections of 1960s and 1970s clothing.

“It’s a natural progression when you’re a collector, and your collection gets bigger and bigger,” Chris said. “You need to make it sustainable, and you start passing along your collection.”

The couple now loves connecting with others who share the same love of vintage items, something that will continue at the new location. Van said the Elizabeth antique mall boasts around 200 vendors.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic,” he said. “The Elizabeth antique mall is in a really incredible spot. We’re just excited there’s a lot more to do there.”

With the move, The Trip Galena will close its space at the Galena antique mall at the end of the month.

As the couple settles into their new space, they hope to continue filling a void in the area for fellow vintage clothing enthusiasts.

“There’s great stores within a couple of hours drive, but there’s nothing super close,” Van said. “We’re trying to fill that niche.”

The Trip Galena is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the same hours as Elizabeth’s Grand Antique Co. The Trip Galena can be found at and on Instagram @thetripgalena.