Burlap & Lace opens downtown
Store owner praises Waukesha’s focus on art

By Alison Fox - Freeman Staff

August 17, 2014

Rhea Loveless in her Creme de Le Creme Salon inside Burlap & Lace Marketplace. 
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA — The overall mission of Burlap & Lace Marketplace, a new store located at 840 N. Grand Ave. in downtown Waukesha, is literally hanging over people’s heads.

Rhea Loveless, the store’s owner, said she wanted to create a space that would allow local artists to display and sell their one-of-a-kind items.
“I like Waukesha 150 percent more then West Allis,” she said. “There’s way more sidewalk traffic and there’s a strong downtown area.”

The unique deep blue and gold trimmed Burlap & Lace Marketplace sign, displayed at the store’s entrance, was created by DH Graphics & Signs, inc., a Waukesha-based company. Along with the sign, the store features the work of 26 Waukesha County artists. Store merchandise includes — but is not limited to — repurposed and upcycled furniture, homemade soaps, crochet hats, antiques, and handmade American Girl Doll clothing.

The store’s mission is to empower artists to be unique and creative and bring happiness to the special moments that happen every day, Loveless said.

One vendor, for example, creates candles out of old wine and beer bottles.

Burlap & Lace Marketplace features handmade items like these doll clothes,
along with vintage clothing and other items from a variety of vendors. 

Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

“If you have a favorite wine, you can save the bottle, come in and ask her to make a candle out of it,” Loveless said.

Other vendor items include kitchen islands made from antique dressers, signs made from old barn wood, refinished antique mirrors and picture frames, and homemade jewelry.

Loveless, who moved to Wisconsin from Oklahoma after meeting her husband online, came to Waukesha after owning a store in West Allis for about three years. She said she explored relocating in Wauwatosa, Cedarburg, and Bay View, but ultimately decided on Waukesha because of its focus on art.

“I like Waukesha 150 percent more then West Allis,” she said. “There’s way more sidewalk traffic and there’s a strong downtown area.”

Along with its merchandise, the store itself has a unique and artistic vibe. Crystal chandeliers hang over hardwood floors, and an exposed brick wall reveals the building’s architecture.

Loveless is also a hairdresser, and her Creme de Le Creme Salon is located in the back of the store. Burlap & Lace also offers a bakery and organic, fair trade coffee — iced or hot — with indoor and patio seating.

The store has opened its doors for the last three Friday Night Live events, and will hold its grand opening Aug. 22 and 23. Loveless said business has been great so far, and she thinks it will only get better.

The grand opening will feature door prizes, music, wine and cheese, and refreshments. From 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 23, people can stop by to get animal balloons or temporary tattoos.

In the future, Loveless plans to expand the store into the basement, which will provide more space for interested vendors. She wants to get artists together to paint murals that resemble a shopping village on the walls.

She plans on painting a stone path along the basement floor so costumers will feel they are taking a stroll outside while shopping.

She also hopes to start hosting an art class later this year, where people can bring in old furniture and refinish it. The basement currently contains antique furniture that Loveless has found online, and people taking the course will have the option of purchasing pieces they like and refurnishing them during the class.