A different kind of creativity in Oconomowoc
Hammer Down bringing artisan goods to Waukesha County

By Eric Oliver - Freeman Staff

March 4, 2016

Shannon Meier preparing to hang a handmade American flag in her store, Hammer Down, 128 S. Silver Lake St.
Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

OCONOMOWOC - Shannon Meier said she has always had a “can I make it first?” attitude.

That attitude and frequent family trips to the area throughout her childhood brought her to Oconomowoc. She moved here when she turned 21 years old. A few years later she opened her own handmade artisan and lifestyle shop.

Hammer Down, 128 S. Silver Lake St., is the fruit of her hard work. Her stock is eclectic, from crocheted hats made out of wool she sheared from a sheep herself to various art prints, pieces of jewelry and even skateboards.

She’s doing it differently and she’s doing it first.

“Hammer Down is basically an old saying for working hard,” Meier said. “To hammer down means to buckle down and work hard.”

Hammer Down is a handmade artisan lifestyle shop. 
Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

The hard work she and other artists have put into the merchandise available in her store is something Meier tries to make apparent to all of her customers.

For example, Meier stocks handmade clutches made by Jess Goehner and sold under the brand Directive. Every clutch is made from leather and cotton. Goehner hand dyes the canvas, then block prints a pattern on it, which is followed by block printing the individual tag Goehner sews inside the purse.

“It’s a long process from thinking of the designs to actually making all that,” Meier said. “To take the effort to do that for every bag she does, most people don’t think of it.”

That’s the kind of product Meier makes sure she stocks. It’s something indicative of her generation. She opened the store to not only showcase her own wares, but to help other artists have a place for their creations.

“Everyone is trying to help each other out,” Meier said. “That’s the great thing. When you’re in a business like this it’s a community of art and handmade wares. It’s really inspiring.”

Skateboards for sale at the store. 
Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

Meier said she makes it a point to learn the story behind every product in her store.

“You’re literally getting a chunk of someone’s life when you’re buying handmade,” Meier said. “I don’t think people realize that. ... You’re not only getting the hours of making, you’re getting the hours of preparation and the hours of inspiration. You’re getting a lot of someone’s life out of one handmade item.”

When she is looking for a new product to stock, Meier goes wherever inspiration leads her. Quite frequently that’s to the things she considers “dying arts.”

A selection of handmade coasters and bangles.  
Eric Oliver/Freeman Staff

“I can help skills that are kind of dying art nowadays like blacksmithing and woodworking,” Meier said. “It’s really cool to be able to pull things in like that.”

Meier grew up liking Oconomowoc. She attributes that to the sense of community the city has.

“It’s a nice, quaint, cute, little town,” Meier said.

When Meier first decided to move to Oconomowoc, she said, a lot of people she knew would say “Oconomo-what,” but as she gets more her friends to come and see what her store and Oconomowoc is all about they all see what she likes about it.

Meier is hoping her shop can contribute to the local shopping scene.

“We are at a cusp where people need to realize we do need to shop local and shop small,” Meier said. “... I just try and help further the education of that.”

Email: eoliver@conleynet.com