Category Archives: Local Business

Happy Days In South Milwaukee: Fonz Coming To Town

MEARS Online Auctions is one of my favorite local business.

What Troy has done with the former St. Mary’s Hall is amazing — you have to see it to believe it. And you have that chance on Saturday.

That is when MEARS is holding its Autograph Expo, with a special appearance by Henry Winkler.

More details here … and be sure stop by and grab a unique Christmas gift at one of the most unique (and coolest) businesses in the area.


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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

29 Ways To Shop Local This Holiday Season

Shop Local South Milwaukee

Today is Small Business Saturday, and what better time to join me in committing to shopping local this holiday season?

Be sure to like the Shop Local South Milwaukee Facebook page and maybe …

  1. Buy gift certificates from some of our great local bars and restaurants, from Azteca to China Chef to Barbiere’s to Paisano’s to Muskie’s Gourmet House to Spirts Pub & Grill to the new Tap Room – and many, many more. How about giving the gift of burgers and custard at the beach, in advance of Ferch’s returning next summer?
  2. Local coffee makes a great gift from MKE City Sippers or Nomi.
  3. Give the gift of fitness and health at Moxie Fitness, the South Milwaukee Fitness CenterSorce Martial Arts, Dowling Community Acupuncture, Drenzek Chiropractic … the list goes on.
  4. Buy one of the limited-edition South Milwaukee Community & Business Association holiday ornaments. This year, it’s the city logo.
  5. Games for Christmas? Absolutely! Shop downtown at Board Game Barrister or Pink Bunny Games for traditional family board games, Magic: The Gathering gear and more.
  6. Get a beautiful stained glass piece from Studio One Art Glass. (We have one hanging in every first-floor window of our home.)
  7. Buy some unique wood art from Larry Oleson, the man who built all of the Little Free Libraries this fall.
  8. And speaking of terrific wood pieces, Wolfgang Calnin, the retired high school choir director who owns Urbanwood Studio, also does one-of-a-kind work using rehabbed local wood, including the cool Ecophoniq smart phone speaker.
  9. Buy Rocket or South Milwaukee apparel from one of our downtown t-shirt shops, Styled Aesthetic or JB’s Tee Shirt Factory.
  10. Have a NASCAR fan in your house? Green Flag Racing downtown is the only store in the area (state?) focused on selling items only for auto racing enthusiasts (like me).
  11. Staying with collectibles, check out South Milwaukee-based MEARS Online Auctions, which has one-of-a-kind vintage sports gear, toys, and military items up for bid as we speak. Troy has also opened a military collectibles store at 723 Milwaukee Ave. (the former Voice Journal building), with the candy store to come soon.
  12. Like horror? Graveyard Records & Movie Maniacs bills itself as “the Midwest’s larger horror collectibles store,” and Dave’s store at 1013 Milwaukee Ave. doesn’t disappoint. This is very cool (and somewhat macabre) stuff you can’t get anywhere else.
  13. Shop at the South Milwaukee Christmas Market on Saturday, December 5. Around 90 local artisans are expected — 90!
  14. Give the gift of performing arts with tickets to an upcoming show at the South Milwaukee PAC.
  15. Nothing says “happy holidays” like jewelry, right? Jewelry from Donn Powers, that is.
  16. Pick up some holiday flowers or a centerpiece from Parkway Floral.
  17. How about antiques? Check out Memory Lane or Grandma’s Attic in the Fenno Building, 916 Milwaukee Ave.
  18. Buy a bandanna, jigsaw puzzle, notebook and other HANmade item — designed by South Milwaukeean Colleen McCarrier.
  19. Enjoy a children’s book from award-winning local author Janet Halfmann.
  20. Buy a new chair, sofa or bed from Galaxy Furniture, Grant Park Plaza’s newest tenant.
  21. Keep your vehicle running right with the gift of an oil change or three from a local car care center in our fair city.
  22. Cater your holiday meal from a local caterer like Emerald City or Charlie’s Catering. Pick up a pie, bread or cookies from Wild Flour Bakery.
  23. And don’t forget holiday beer, wine and spirits — I’ll put a plug in here for Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter, Blue Moon Gingerbread Spiced Ale, Redd’s Apple Ale or a nice Miller Lite or Coors Light — from local liquor stores Chicago Avenue Liquor, Marquette Liquor, King’s Row, G&K Liquor or BJ’s Liquor.
  24. Give the gift of golf this Christmas, with a free round or three at Grant Park or other county courses.
  25. Know a disc golf fan? Stop by Acetime Disc Golf.
  26. Give the gift of a clean pooch at Fancy Paws Dog Grooming, 1200 Milwaukee Ave.
  27. How about a VISA gift card from one of our local financial institutions?
  28. Get a loved one (or you) a new hair style, with a gift certificate from one of our local salons.
  29. And, finally, let’s not forget local chains, many of them owned by local franchisees — small business owners themselves. If you’re going to shop at a chain store this holiday season, please do so at places like Ace Hardware, Planet Fitness, Pick ‘n Save, Aldi, Cousins, Subway, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, Toppers, Walmart, Napa, Speedway, Walgreens, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and others that all our city home.

What did I miss? Post your comments below … and shop local!


Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee

Made In South Milwaukee: Expansion Underway For Downtown Apparel And Graphic Design Company

The latest in a regular series.

To me, the future of downtown South Milwaukee lies with the owners of small, locally owned businesses who provide a product or service you simply can’t get at a big box store or shopping mall. It rests with young entrepreneurs like Kyle Werra and Steve Welk.

Kyle and Steve own Styled Aesthetic at 918 Milwaukee Ave.

It’s a unique business that you may better know as the Rocket Shop, where you can purchase wearables and other South Milwaukee-themed items. But it’s also a thriving screen printing business, with clients including auto racing teams, national corporate clients and your local pub.

Both parts of the business are growing.

First, they are planning to expand and renovate the Rocket Shop to create a more inviting retail space. Work will be done in the next six months. They’ve also expanded their product line and store hours (it’s now open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays and 10-5 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with new Black Friday and Small Business Saturday hours coming up later this month).

And earlier this month, Styled Aesthetic announced a partnership with the school district where it would sell its clothing at the Orbit store at South Milwaukee High School.

Then there is the screen printing business. Kyle and Steve are adding a third printing press and a second dryer at their downtown location, as they ramp up production.

One cool customer of theirs: Dr. McDreamy. Fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” get the reference. Styled Aesthetic provides wearables and an online retail outlet for Dempsey Racing, the pursuit of the former TV star better known as Derek Shepherd (before he died on the show earlier this year).

Not bad for a business that started in Kyle’s basement shortly after both he and Steve were attending Franklin High School.

From their website …

Playing pool, listening to music, making fun of everything (including ourselves), wanting to have a cool Pabst t-shirt for a bar crawl and a strong desire to be our own boss are the main reasons we started a company.

Our story begins in 2006 three years before Styled Aesthetic was incorporated. After designing a shirt for a pub crawl Kyle found it difficult to find a screen printer who would print the shirt.  Rather than change the design he purchased a screen printing press and ran the shirt himself. The one color press quickly turned into a 4 color press for the next year’s more elaborate design, which led to small screen printing jobs for friends and family.

In the late winter of 2007 Kyle and Steve started talking about starting a business (while on a holiday pub crawl of course). With Steve’s background in marketing and sales and Kyle’s design background and growing knowledge of screen printing, a screen printing and design business was a natural fit. After months of planning Styled Aesthetic was born in January of 2009 in the basement of Kyle’s house in Franklin, Wisconsin.

From our humble beginnings we have grown out of the basement to a 2,800 square foot shop in South Milwaukee. We now have 7 employees and customers that span the continental United States from a diverse group of industries and companies.

And they are now proudly Made in South Milwaukee.

Check them out on the web and Facebook.


Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Saturday: Meet The Mayor (Me) Downtown

My next Meet the Mayor session is this Saturday, November 14, at one of the more unique properties downtown.

It’s the Fenno building, 916 Milwaukee Ave.

This building is home to a variety of small businesses — including a few that I bet you didn’t know about: Memory Lane Antiques and Grandma’s Attic, Acetime Disc GolfDynamic Sign and Graphix, Styled Aesthetic, Wolf’s Dry Cleaners and more.

Be sure to stop by between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and, check out the local businesses and discuss what’s on your mind.

My door is open!

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Filed under Events, Local Business, South Milwaukee

D.B. Tax & Financial Services: Investing In Downtown South Milwaukee



D.B. Tax & Financial Services is betting big on downtown South Milwaukee – and I can’t be more excited about it.

The accounting and wealth management firm has purchased the former Tai Ping Restaurant, and will expand into the building starting this winter. The work includes rebuilding of the restaurant façade to match its current building (the former Grand Theater) and extensive interior remodeling.

The expansion will allow D.B., 1125 Milwaukee Ave., to add four employees to its current 11.

All in, it’s an $800,000 investment in downtown South Milwaukee, from a business with longstanding roots in the community.

From the D.B. website

Established in 1989 by its founders Larry & Diane Burger. After many years of dedicated service with the Wisconsin Air National Guard – 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee, WI, Larry and Diane retired from the military and ventured into small business entrepreneurship. They purchased, remodeled, and opened an office in the front suite of The Grand Theater Building (Established 1913), in South Milwaukee, WI. It was in these early years the firm provided personal and business income tax preparation and tax planning. After its establishment and continued growth, new staff was hired, more office space was added, and the firm began to accomplish what most small businesses envy – that is growth, dedicated clients, quality service, and an excellent reputation in a great community. As additional staff came on board, Diane and Larry ventured into retirement. It was at this time their daughter and employee since 1989, Lisa Pugel (f.k.a. Lisa Klatt), began actively managing the South Milwaukee location. Lisa is now the acting President of D.B. Tax & Financial Services, Inc. and providing services to clients from communities over Southeastern Wisconsin.

During the first few years Lisa owned the firm, she implemented new technologies that gave the office the ability to work more efficiently with the taxing agencies. These advancements allowed for the firm to process faster returns with even faster refunds. And more importantly, without sacrificing quality. In addition, Lisa brought new services to the firm which included comprehensive financial and tax planning, payroll and small business bookkeeping, insurance services, education planning and estate planning. All of these services are still provided today by a dedicated staff with decades of experience.

It was within the next year Lisa purchased The Grand Theater Building and began a major remodeling and renovation process adding more than 4500 square feet of office space. You can still see the reminisce of the old movie theater as you pass through the hallway and glance upwards to see the architectural features of the old theater. It was in 2009 that the last of the interior renovations occurred (adding loft living space in the upper unit) and the exterior facade was given a tremendous face lift as it is now one of the most beautiful buildings on Milwaukee Avenue.

And it will only get more beautiful in the months ahead.

I met with Lisa earlier recently to discuss her plans, which include $10,000 in façade grant support from the City of South Milwaukee. She showed me around, and her space is beautiful. From the movie poster holder near the front door to the columns lining the hallway, you can still see remnants of the old theater, but the space has been completely modernized.

The expansion I’m certain will be first class, too – and a strong step in our ongoing work to bring downtown South Milwaukee back to life. Thanks for being a part of the renaissance, D.B. Tax!


Filed under Downtown, Local Business, South Milwaukee

Honoring The Best Of Our Local Businesses

Market chamber award

Cudahy award St. Francis award

Congratulations to all of the businesses honored at Thursday’s South Shore Chamber of Commerce awards dinner!

In Cudahy, it was Jen’s Sweet Treats. And in St. Francis, it was PDQ Tooling.

I’m especially proud of the South Milwaukee award winner: the South Milwaukee Downtown Market.

It has been an honor to be a small part of this event’s success, and it is great to see it and the volunteers who drive it get the recognition they richly deserve.

The South Shore is on the rise, and it’s because of businesses like these.

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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee, South Shore

Meet The Mayor This Saturday

Drenzek image

Just a quick reminder that my latest Meet the Mayor event is this Saturday at Drenzek Chiropractic.

Stop by between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and share your thoughts, ideas, questions, comments and concerns.

Thanks to Dr. Kristin and her team for hosting me!

Learn more about Drenzek, located at 2211 10th Ave., here on Facebook.

And note that my next Meet the Mayor is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Fenno building downtown, home of a number of unique small businesses in the heart of our downtown.

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Filed under Local Business, South Milwaukee