Branching out
Robin’s European Cottage is second venture

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Correspondent

July 11, 2017

 Robin’s European Cottage is the second store for owner Robin Parsons in
Cedarburg’s Cedar Creek Settlement.
Photos by Mark Justesen

CEDARBURG — In the 30 years since she opened her first store in Cedarburg, Robin Parsons has seen some distinct changes.

“I had actually been dabbling in antiques, and started with an antique store across the street,” she said. “People were very into ‘country’ and decorating their homes with anything country themed. All of that has completely faded out over time.”

When a space opened up in the Cedar Creek Settlement, owners Jim and Sandy Pape interviewed a number of potential storeowners before giving Parsons the opportunity she said she’s still grateful for: the space for Robin’s Nest, her first Settlement store.

As a merchant in the Settlement, Parsons went on to take over the Cedar Creek Trading Post space, which she recreated and improved after the previous tenant moved the store to a different city, and also opened a third store that featured European gifts and cottage-themed décor.

 Irish sweaters are among the items that are most popular with shoppers at
Robin’s European Cottage.
Photos by Mark Justesen

“Over time, I realized I just wanted two stores, so I used that as a opportunity to remodel my existing space on the first floor and renamed it Robin’s European Cottage,” she said. “However, I have been continually operating in that space for 30 years this July.”

When Parsons first started in Cedarburg, lace collars were her biggest sellers, which women would attach to the necklines of their clothing. Now, she finds that her line of Irish sweaters is tops among shoppers.

“I don’t have a lick of Irish blood in me, but I was able to visit Ireland and completely fell in love with the place,” she said. “I visited England this year and hope to travel to Scotland. These trips have allowed me to actually visit some of my suppliers.”

She also enjoys the relationships she’s built with customers during her years in business.

“I just love our customers and finding out where everyone is from when they come into the shops,” she said. “I’ve noticed we’ve seen an increase in foreign tourists, which is great.”

She’s also appreciative of those who make the point to shop locally.

“Shopping locally is the way to keep Cedarburg the way it is,” she said. “We can’t stay in business if people choose to do their shopping online. Local merchants need your support so we can continue our support of the community – I’ve made more than 100 donations back into the community this year.”

Though she’s seen a number of changes in trends and retail tastes in the past three decades, she said a key to her success is something that hasn’t changed since she first moved into the Cedar Creek Settlement – the support of the Papes and her fellow merchants.

“We actually have a merchant’s association that supports us but also things in the community, such as the festivals and our Five Festive Fridays,” she said. “There is such a sense of camaraderie among us and that has stayed so consistent over the years.”

As a longtime merchant, she’s reaching this milestone with a grateful heart.

“I love what I do and think I’m incredibly blessed,” she said. “I am grateful to God for what I am able to do and the life that I have.”

To help celebrate her 30th anniversary, Parsons is running a number of “30-themed” promotions in July in both of her stores, including an opportunity for customers to win a gift basket valued at $300.
 

Contact

Robin’s European Cottage

N70 W6340 Bridge Road (Cedar Creek Settlement) Cedarburg
262-377-3444
www.robinseuropeancottage.com

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday