New store will bring art to Brown Street
Still seeking vendors selling artisanal goods

By Jonathan Richie - Special to the Enterprise

August 31, 2017

 The store front of Brown St. Emporium, which may open at W359-N5740 Brown St.
in the fall or spring.

Submitted photo

TOWN OF OCONOMOWOC — Imagine a retail space that doesn’t sell mass produced goods and is void of “Made in China” tags. A store committed to selling artisanal goods from local independent vendors, a year-round craft fair for Lake Country.

“This is stuff you can’t buy at Wal-Mart,” said Dan Von Rueden, owner and operator of Brown St. Emporium, located at W359N5740 Brown St. in the Town of Oconomowoc. “This stuff will make you think ‘how did they think of that and then how did they make it.’” Brown St. Emporium began when Von Rueden bought the building earlier this year for his job as an electronic service worker. A job that has taken him all over the country for the last six years.

“I bought the building because I like the area and was looking for a home base for work,” Von Rueden said. “The idea came to me over time with people coming in and telling me how a craft vendors’ space would be great here.”

It’s a combination of an antique mall and a craft fair. The overall goal is to spotlight creative minds in the area. Von Rueden admits this isn’t a completely original idea and pointed out other cities have these spaces, but he has an idea based in the community.

“We are an art-based community,” said Katie Miller, executive director of the Oconomowoc Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of people here are artists at heart, they love to create.”

Von Rueden said he is dedicated to having diversity in the store. Part of the application process is making sure not everyone is selling candles and baja hoodies.

“Right now we’re taking applications for vendors,” Von Rueden said. “I’d love if the community would get involved with filling booths and setting up the space inside the building.”

 This sign will welcome customers to Brown St. Emporium when the artisanal goods store opens at W359-N5740 Brown St.
Submitted photo

Miller said it’s great to see this building getting new use in this creative space. The market for locally crafted goods has expanded and this business could fit that need perfectly.

“We are in the very early stages of this project,” Von Rueden said. “I’m still finishing up the storefront look. Then we’ll have a grasp on the next step.”

Von Rueden said they are taking the business one step at a time.

“Once we’ve got the store full of vendors, then we’ll plan our grand opening,” Von Rueden said. “I’d love to open in fall, but we might have to wait until the spring.”

Brown St. Emporium vendor applications can be picked up in person or found on their Facebook page, Von Rueden is looking for as many applications as possible.