Biz Buzz Tuesday: Decor store coming to Millwork District; Elkader business plans move; wellness center opens in Dubuque

Jeff Mont-gomery

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states each Tuesday. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Elkader, Iowa.

For the better part of two decades, Peosta, Iowa, resident Anna Francois spent her workdays taking mental notes each time she walked through a property.

“I have been a Realtor for 17 years, and I’ve gone into a lot of homes,” she said. “I’ve always paid attention to the decor, and that’s helped me see what is trending and what people like.”

Francois is putting those observations to good use as she embarks on a new chapter in her career.

She launched Rustic Charm Decor Barn out of her home in November and plans to open a storefront in late February. It will be located within the Novelty Iron Works Building, 333 E. 10th St. in Dubuque.

The business sells a variety of decorative items, including plaques, rugs, vases, shelves and wall art.

Francois uses her refined decorating taste to handpick items from a wide array of vendors, placing an emphasis on items that adhere to the store’s modern farmhouse theme.

For the past few months, the business has been an online-only venture, and Francois was planning to stick with that model for a while. But that changed when a space in the Novelty Iron Works building between Vivie Boutique and the future site of Gino’s East pizza became available.

“I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity,” Francois said.

She said the business likely will be open Tuesday through Saturday during the winter but noted that hours could be adjusted later in the year.

Customers can learn more at rusticcharmdecorbarn.com.

ELKADER BUSINESS PLOTS MOVE

The owners of an Elkader power-equipment business believe that a short move will make a big difference.

Royal Products Outdoor Power will relocate to 821 High St. NE on March 1. The new location is just five blocks from the current site, but co-owner Cletus Keppler believes it will be a major leap forward for the business.

“The new location will have more space, and it will have a lot more visibility than the current one,” he said.

Royal Products sells chainsaws, lawnmowers and a variety of other outdoor equipment.

The business has been a mainstay in Elkader for decades. Keppler and his wife, Tanya, took over the operation about eight years ago when the previous owners elected to retire.

The Kepplers in September opened an outlet store offering furniture and other discounted items. Known as The Outlet at Royal Products, the new offering already is operating at 821 High St. NE and will be joined by the original Royal Products in a matter of weeks.

Keppler said the departure from 305 High St. NE will free up space for the expansion of Elkader Fitness, which currently shares the building with Royal Products.

“We’re excited they can grow,” said Keppler. “That was another reason why it made sense for us to move.”

WELLNESS CENTER OPENS

A mutual interest in fitness and wellness prompted two local residents to start a new business in downtown Dubuque.

Travis Olson and Irving Pulido launched Be One Wellness at 1497 Central Ave. in late 2020. The business offers massage therapy, personal training and access to cutting-edge equipment, including a pair of infrared saunas and a cryotherapy machine.

By exposing clients to extremely cold temperatures, cryotherapy machines slow inflammation, improve blood flow, release endorphins and improve chronic conditions such as arthritis, Olson said.

“We notice that, through (the COVID-19 pandemic), people are more aware of their health and taking better care of themselves,” he said. “People are out searching for ways to be healthier. That has been incredible to see.”

Through personal experiences, Olson and Pulido have learned the value of taking care of their bodies.

Olson suffered a fractured lower back while playing football and, in subsequent years, has benefited immensely from massage therapy.

“I wanted to provide that benefit for other people,” he said.

Pulido grew up as a multi-sport athlete and, more recently, competed as a bodybuilder.

“There was a lot of wear and tear on my body when I was younger, and that really shows,” Pulido said. “I didn’t really take care of my body then, and there are a lot of things now that I wish I would have known as an athlete. I really want to help athletes with those things now.”

Pulido recently worked at a nutritional supplement shop where Olson became a frequent customer. The two formed a friendship and eventually realized the potential of starting a business together.

Olson believes the Central corridor will continue to blossom in years to come and noted that the facility has enough space to accommodate future expansions of their business.

Be One Wellness can be reached at 563-583-0730. It is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.

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