Sloppy Joe’s Five & Dime bringing old-time feel to downtown
New general store an expansion of classic soda fountain

By Matt Masterson - Freeman Staff

Sept. 17, 2014

Shelly Wierzchowski at the counter in the new Sloppy Joe’s Five & Dime.
Charles Auer/Freeman Staff

WAUKESHA - Things are starting to get a little more sloppy around the Five Points in downtown Waukesha.

In a good way, that is.

Shelly Wierzchowski already owns and operates Sloppy Joe’s - a 1950’s throwback soda fountain at Main Street and Broadway downtown - which she bought from her parents, Joe and Lori Lester, last year. But she didn’t feel the idea was quite complete yet.

That’s why she rented the space next door and opened up a new expansion - Sloppy Joe’s Five & Dime.

“My grandpa used to take me to the candy shops and five and dimes,” she said. “My mom kind of started this trend when she used to take us to the soda fountains. So she sort of got that end of it, but I didn’t feel it was complete so I wanted to finish that.”

It only took about two and a half weeks for Wierzchowski and her crew to clean out the former Fox River Mart site and turn it into her own unique creation.

She said the new location is not so much a new store, but more of an expansion of the original Sloppy Joe’s. The interior decor retains the original store’s vintage feel and employees still wear the iconic paper hat and bow tie uniform which has become synonymous with classic soda fountains.

The shop features typical general store items like bread, milk, eggs and cleaning supplies - things people downtown may need but don’t have convenient access to. But Wierzchowski wanted to put an emphasis on one item in particular: Candy.

The store features an assortment of sweets, ranging from current staples to vintage throwbacks like wax sicks, wafer satellites, candy buttons and jawbreakers.

“It is an easy, cheap way for the parents to treat their kids,” Wierzchowski said. “I have seen tons of parents come in and spend less than $2 and get a bag of candy.”

She added that the store is aimed at giving families - teens and children especially - a fun place to go downtown.

Unlike the Sloppy Joe’s Soda Fountain, which closes down during the winter, Wierzchowski said the Five & Dime will stay open year round. She said she plans on making nachos and some other warmer items from the soda fountain available to customers during the winter months, adding that the two locations could one day be connected through a walkway stretching between them.

The Five & Dime opened two weeks ago in time to catch a Friday Night Live and let the downtown crowd know what was going on with the new location. The store is open from 9 a.m. to about 6 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

“It has been good, it has been encouraging,” Wierzchowski said, describing the store’s first couple weeks. “Most of the people coming in are just taking a peek to see what’s going on. I’ve had real friendly vibes from everybody. The kids are loving the candy idea.”