Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-states. This edition highlights developments in Dubuque; Dyersville, Iowa; and Lancaster, Wis.
A new sports memorabilia store has opened at Kennedy Mall ahead of the holiday season.
Sports Plus opened last month near the mall’s center court in the space previously occupied by Carnegie Stout Public Library. The store sells licensed sportswear and memorabilia for a variety of popular teams.
“We have a little bit of everything for all the popular teams,” said owner Abbul Malik. “We have items from the NFL, MLB, NBA, all sorts of teams and sports.”
Malik runs another Sports Plus in Davenport, Iowa, and said Dubuquers frequently drive to that location but desired a closer store, prompting the push for the new location.
After working with mall staff, Malik found a highly visible location near the center court where passersby can find the store’s shelves packed with sportswear, team pennants, tumblers, blankets and more for a variety of teams and sports.
“Sometimes a person has one player or one team that they’ve been following since they were a teenager, so they can come in to grow that collection they’ve built over years,” Malik said.
The store is now preparing for the impending holiday season, Malik said, including Black Friday sales. His hope is to use holiday hype to establish the store’s brand recognition in Dubuque and build a regular customer base that will allow for a maintained presence at the mall.
“It’s like any other business. It takes time to find new customers and establish the store, but so far we have had a very good response from the Dubuque community,” Malik said. “People are very nice, and the mall office has been very welcoming.”
Sports Plus is open during mall hours, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Directory information for the store also can be found online at kennedymall.com.
Graphic design office opens in Dyersville
A new graphic design office has opened in downtown Dyersville.
Edwards Creative recently opened its office at 138 First Ave. E. next to Furniture-Land. The Milan, Ill.-based company offers graphic design services to a variety of corporate clients, including several museums across the state of Iowa.
Co-owner Cathy Edwards said the company was looking for a way to further invest in its Iowa clientele and decided an additional office would be a good step.
“We wanted to be in closer proximity to our clients, and we had a (remote) worker in the Dubuque-area, so we thought it would be a good fit,” Edwards said.
The company chose Dyersville because of previous work staff had done for the Field of Dreams Museum.
Interactions Edwards Creative staff had with area economic leaders at that time impressed them, Edwards said, and they remembered those relationships when it came time to opening a new office in the area.
“We’re located in Milan, which is a smaller town, and it felt right for us to go to Dyersville because it’s a similar community,” Edwards said. “It felt familiar, and it’s been good to us.”
The move came with the added benefit of tapping into a new labor market, Edwards said. The Dyersville office currently employs two full-time designers, with plans to grow as demand increases.
The space also doubles as a satellite office for the rest of the company’s staff, who visit Dyersville nearly every week.
The office is open on a walk-in basis from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and can be contacted by phone at 563-599-5721 through the Edwards Creative website at edwardsideas.com/services.
Round barn an all-around success at SW Wisconsin venue
Owners say a recent agricultural addition to a southwest Wisconsin venue has been an all-around success.
This season marks the first for public viewing of a historic round barn now located at Vesperman Farms in Lancaster, said owner Kyle Vesperman. The 1913 building is roughly 40 feet tall with a hand-crafted domed roof.
“It’s unique to pretty much any other barn you’ve likely been in,” Vesperman said. “You walk in and look up at the ceiling, and it’s just unbelievable to think about all the work it took to construct that building.”
The barn previously was located a few miles away from Vesperman Farms on a property along Grant County N. Its bright red visage was well-known to local residents, but few had ever seen inside of the structure.
Vesperman was approached about taking ownership of the structure and relocating it in 2019, when the property the barn sat on was sold and the new owner was looking to decommission it.
Vesperman was hesitant at first, but once he saw the barn’s interior, he knew it needed to be saved.
“Someone took a lot of time and a lot of straight lumber and turned it into this beautiful dome,” he said. “We didn’t want that to just be thrown away.”
After a pandemic-related pause, the barn was relocated to Vesperman Farms in 2022. Next, a new foundation was built and the roof was repaired, and Vesperman had the hayloft removed to provide a full 360-degree view of the interior dome.
The barn now serves as a showpiece at Vesperman Farms, which also offers a yearly corn maze and pumpkin patch.
Vesperman said the barn’s public opening this year coincided with the 20-year anniversary of the corn maze.
“It’s a good addition,” Vesperman said. “It’s something different, and as the season goes on, it’ll be nice to have a place for people to gather and get away from the cold.”
The response to the barn so far has been “nothing but positive,” Vesperman said, and he has several musical acts scheduled to play there this month.
The barn and the rest of the Vesperman Farms will remain open to the public at 8149 Stage Road through Oct. 29 from noon to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. More information is available online at vespermanfarms.com.