Small city, big gifts: Stay local this holiday season

Deb Haupert of DebraAnn Soaps makes luxury artisan soaps. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

River Lights Books on Main Street. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Jewelry designer Theresa Greene sells antique-look necklaces, bracelets and earrings online and at the Dubuque Farmer's Market. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

From left: Alexis Furlong, owner Abbey DeStefano, Brook Smithson and Danielle Meyer of Vivie Boutique. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Kristy Meyer (L) and Lindsey Dohrer of Carol Ann Boutique and Body. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Owner Terri Meadows, of Honest John's Fashion Emporium. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

“Shop local” always has been a mantra of area Chambers of Commerce and small business owners. But never has it been more important than in 2020, the year of the pandemic.

While it’s as easy as the push of a button to order from stores with a big online presence, many local businesses have stepped up to the challenge of keeping their doors open during a time when many small local businesses nationwide are folding.

Online ordering, appointment shopping and curbside pick-up are just some of the ways these businesses are getting creative in competing with the big boys.

Sisters Marisa Hoffmann and Marah Rogers, of The Midwest Girl in Dubuque, launched a product line in October. Their Midwest Daughter products include shirts, hats and hoodies made with the same ultra-soft materials as their Midwest Girl products.

“Our store is open for in-store shopping,” Hoffmann said. “But we also have online shopping, and customers can pick up their orders curbside.”

Terri Meadows, the owner of HJ’s Fashion Emporium in Dubuque and Honest John’s Trading Post, Honest John’s Emporium, Union Leather and Beyond the Horizon in Galena, Ill., said COVID-19 has led to more choices for shoppers.

“It’s the customer’s choice how they want to shop with us,” she said.

Honest John stores are offering curbside or store pick-up, in-store shopping or appointment shopping. Customers also can have their orders shipped to them.

Honest John stores carry women’s clothing, shoes, home décor, leather goods, gifts from around the world and more.

Three brave entrepreneurs are opening businesses this fall, confident that their unique specialties will bring in local shoppers.

Laura Klavitter has owned Planted, a personal plant service, and Micro Greens, which provides greens to local restaurants, for a few years. But she’s opening her first brick-and-mortar location this month.

Planted will offer plants and micro greens for sale, as well as home décor, plant-themed gifts, a potting bar for hands-on potting advice, event space and a rotating art gallery.

Klavitter’s plan is to collaborate with women- and minority-owned businesses to create a gathering place for artists and customers to shop, learn and enjoy being surrounded by the beauty of horticulture and art.

“I’m working with artists who not only will create art for the shop, but will also offer their services in the event space,” she said.

Klavitter said Casanova, her American Bull Terrier, will play a role as the resident shop dog, greeting customers and soaking up the love.

At Champagne on Main in Galena, Ill., which opened in September, sisters Lisa and Laura Kempner are counting on the holiday spirit, as well as spirits of an alcoholic nature, to bring in customers.

“We started this venture a year ago, before COVID,” Lisa said. “Once we were into it, we couldn’t go back. You have to have that creative spirit to push forward right now.”

Champagne on Main has champagne, wine and bourbon — popular gifts this time of year.

“Just tell us what you’re thinking, and we’ll help you make some beautiful choices,” Lisa said.

Champagne on Main also has an event space and is partnering with Cindy’s Catering, of Galena, for private parties and events.

With an array of gifts and services available, you’ll have no trouble staying local for all of your gift needs this holiday season.

Be sure to check websites and social media for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday events and hours, as well as extended holiday hours and other special events.

More ideas

Food & drink

Champagne on Main

Specialties: Wine, spirits, gift baskets and private events. Gift certificates available. Shop in store. Order pick-up available.

Location: 116 S. Main St., Galena, Ill.; 815-777-6007;

Hours: 4-9 p.m. Thursday; 3-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; private parties scheduled any day of the week.

Clothing & fashion

HJ’s Fashion Emporium

Specialties: Clothing, shoes, leather goods, home décor and unique gifts. Gift certificates available. Shop in store or by appointment. Curbside or store pick-up. Shipping available. Visit HJ’s Fashion Emporium on Facebook at on Friday, Nov. 20, for Pink Friday, a live event featuring gift giving ideas and holiday tips.

Locations: 241 Main St. in Dubuque; Honest John’s Trading Post, 103 N. Main St., Galena, Ill.; Union Leather, 221 S. Main St., Galena, Ill.; Beyond the Horizon, 125 S. Main St., Galena, Ill.; Honest John’s Emporium, 108 N. Main St., Galena, Ill; 563-584-9100;

Hours for HJ’s Fashion Emporium: 10 a..m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. Check website for hours of other locations.

J&R Fashions

Specialties: Clothing and accessories. Gift certificates available. Shop in store or online. Curbside pick-up available. Delivery available within Dyersville city limits. Ships nationwide. Storewide specials for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Location: 207 First Ave. E., Dyersville, Iowa; 563-875-9027;

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

The Midwest Girl

Specialties: Clothing and accessories. Gift certificates available. Shop in store or online. Curbside pick-up available.

Location: 898 Jackson St.; 563-542-8931;

Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday and Friday; noon-5 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Vivie Boutique

Specialties: Women’s fashions, accessories, gifts and more. Gift certificates available. Shop in store, online or by appointment. Bob & Lou’s Coffee on site 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14.

Location: 333 E. 10th St., No. 103; 239-223-4022;

Hours: By appointment Monday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; 11 a.m.-8p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

Books, art & home décor


Specialties: Online home decor. Owner Dee Crist will curate a box to fit into your home with the change of seasons, holidays or trends. Homeboxed also will send a box of curated goods to your door that includes instructions on how to place it in your home. Online assistance is available. Gift certificates available. Shop online.

Location: Cuba City, Wis.; 608-482-1358;


Specialties: Plants, home décor, art, private events and community events. Gift certificates available. Special orders available. Shop in store. Curbside pick-up. Phone orders.

Location: 245 W. First St.; 563-508-2755;

Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 2-8 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.

River Lights Bookstore

Specialties: Books, magazines, greeting cards, stationery, gifts, puzzles and toys. Gift certificates available. Shop in store, online or by appointment. Holiday open house Nov. 15-21.

Location: 1098 Main St.; 563-556-4391;

Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday; 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Health & wellness

Carol Ann Boutique & Body

Specialties: Massage therapy, facials, waxing and reiki therapy. Gift certificates available.

Location: 3337 Hillcrest Road, Suite A; 563-585-1015;

Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

Select Balance/Vive IV Therapy

Specialties: Supplements, detox kits, personal care items, nutritional IV experiences and sauna experiences. Gift certificates available. Black Friday event with free healthcare goodies, including free B12 injections.

Location: 4855 Asbury Road, No. 7; 563-284-2418; or

Hours: 9:30 am-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-noon Saturday.


Adam’s Dance Connection

Specialties: Dance lessons. Specializes in ballroom, Latin, bridal, night club, country, swing, line and Afro-Cuban partner dances. Social and competitive dance. Gift certificates available.

Location: 900 Jackson St., No. 1A; 563-845-9729;

Hours: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. Some flexible morning and afternoon lessons available by appointment.

Bustin Axe Throwing Range

Specialties: Throwing lessons, smash room sessions, apparel, firewood and private parties. Gift certificates available. Hero discount (15%) for teachers, veterans and first responders.

Location: 576 Central Ave.; 563-207-0679;

Hours: By appointment.

Michelle London writes for the Telegraph Herald.

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