Check out these unusual and inventive stores around our area.
Bark on Mulford
2002 S. Mulford Road, Rockford, (815) 558-2275, barkonmulford.com
Kaye Busse-Kleber is a huge dog lover, so when the opportunity arose to start her own canine boutique, she jumped.
“The timing all lined up just right,” she says. “Then, the location became available. So, I purchased the building.”
Busse-Kleber loves to pamper pets with treats and accessories as soon as they walk in. She sells collars, leashes, toys, treats and accessories for all dogs. There’s also a small cat section – for those families that love both dogs and cats. Busse-Kleber openly encourages shoppers to try before they buy.
“One of the benefits of shopping locally is you can bring your dog in and try things on, as opposed to ordering it online and paying for shipping,” she says.
Since launching her store in November 2017, Busse-Kleber has expanded her offerings to include accessories like winter coats and boots as well as natural chews and birthday treats.
The store is located next to Mulford Animal Hospital and The Fur Flies Dog Grooming Salon.
Busse-Kleber holds a monthly fundraiser for local animal shelters and animal rescue groups. Recently, she offered to donate a collar to the Winnebago County Animal Services every time another collar or harness was sold.
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. to 3 p.m.
403 S. State St., Belvidere, (815) 354-9645, buniquevintage.com
Brenda Rowley has long enjoyed home decor and refurbishing furniture. She took a chance and made her hobby a career in 2013 when she opened B Unique.
The store offers modern and vintage home decor, collectibles, refurbished furniture and more. Rowley’s unique style of “shabby chic” sets her apart from her competitors.
“I hear a lot from my customers that I decorate things a different way,” says Rowley. “The way I use a window or how I place a certain item usually has a different use than intended. I get a lot of comments about how my design style is different from the average store.”
Rowley’s furniture is in good company at her downtown Belvidere storefront, a registered historical building constructed in 1900.
The store is also a go-to resource for do-it-yourself furniture refinishers. Not only does Rowley dispense advice from her own experiences, but she’s a retailer of Country Chic Paint, a chalk-based, low-VOC furniture paint that fits right in with the farmhouse chic decor in the store.
“I do a lot with my Country Chic Paint,” says Rowley. “I offer custom furniture painting, and I show people how to paint.”
Hours: Tues. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Wed. noon-4 p.m., Thurs. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. noon-6 p.m.
National Mustard Museum Store
7477 Hubbard Ave., Middleton, Wis., (608) 831-2222, mustardmuseum.com
Some folks are unaware that the one and only National Mustard Museum is located right here in our region. Founded by condiment connoisseur (and former Wisconsin assistant attorney general) Barry Levenson in 1992, it showcases more than 6,090 mustards from 70 countries, telling their stories through the Mustardpiece Theater and other clever exhibits.
“There’s no other museum like it, and visitors can stop at our tasting bar and sample any mustard we carry,” says Jeremy Jacobson, operations manager, who describes his job as “weird and wonderful.”
Museum admission is free, with no obligation to visit the store, but why wouldn’t you want to? Along with a dizzying variety of mustards, it sells gourmet oils, vinegars, salsas, chutneys, hot sauces, dessert toppings, preserves and more.
With National Mustard Day on Aug. 3, perhaps your mustard apparel needs updating. Find the “Poupon U” sweatshirt, “Peace Love Mustard” tee and more at the online store, where you can shop for mustards by country of origin. You’ll also find lots of recipes, like Mustard Spice Cake and Hurtin’ Habanero Mustard Guacamole.
Hours: Mon. & Thurs. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Fri.-Sat. to 5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Closed on all major holidays.