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Posted: November 5, 2020 Purple Petunia and Calico Shoppe

We came prepared to talk with Dan and Lynn Goelzer about their long history in downtown Eau Claire, which starts with the opening of The Calico Shoppe at 214 South Barstow in 1993. Dan then shared that their building site was first used in 1883 as a clothing store, saloon, and harness shop – which caused us to pause and re-evaluate what constitutes a long history.

In modern terms, however, we’re 100% certain that running and expanding a successful business for 27 years classifies as a long history.

Dan and Lynn run two businesses, three if you include their apartment rental above their shops. In fact, a well-appointed apartment above The Purple Petunia is currently available for rent. Connected to The Calico Shoppe, a fabric and quilt shop, The Purple Petunia gift shop at 216 S. Barstow, opened in 2002.

A current ad for The Calico Shoppe reads: Since 1993, Lynn Goelzer has owned and operated the shop on Barstow Street, and believes great customer service in a friendly and caring atmosphere is why customers keep coming back.

We felt that when we visited.  Both businesses are cozy, familiar, welcoming – a place you can comfortably spend time browsing and chatting. We dare say that Lynn and Dan were bringing the “hygge” to their businesses long before we discovered there was a name for it.

Over the years, they transformed The Purple Petunia into a shop that offers a wide selection of unique gift items, ladies apparel, hats, gloves, handbags, a line of exclusively-designed Eau Claire apparel, and more.

“Lynn started everything,” says Dan. “It made sense to expand to the Purple Petunia and add that once the space became available. It started more as home décor, then transitioned to what it is today.”

The Calico Shoppe has built relationships with quilters and crafters far beyond the Chippewa Valley – some of whom come in busloads for annual retreats and events.

“We have people coming in through Minnesota, Iowa, all over the place,” says Lynn.

Although COVID put a stop to the events and retreats that bring busloads of quilters to the shop, Dan and Lynn are hopeful to see their return.

In addition, foot traffic brought in via downtown events and visitors to the city benefits The Purple Petunia. They look forward to seeing both return at the end of the COVID tunnel.

Currently, both shops are open to customers and they have been managing online and call in orders for customers as well. They monitor the number of customers in their stores, require customers to wear a mask, encourage social distancing, and have been working diligently to sanitize.

Beyond their shops, Dan has been heavily involved in the South Barstow Business Improvement District (BID) Board and has helped bring about change and development for the entire district.

“If you want to know what’s going on, you have to get involved,” says Dan.

One of the major projects during his time on the BID Board was the redesign and upgrade of South Barstow street that has brought the district ever closer to being a pedestrian-friendly destination that welcomes residents and visitors to spend some time.   

While Dan is not currently serving on the BID Board, his work on behalf of the South Barstow District has never really ceased. In fact, one of our to-do’s after our interview was to visit the basement of the shop and get an inventory of some of the seasonal street décor he still stores for the district.

As we work to get some of that seasonal décor out on the streets this holiday season, Dan wants to encourage holiday shoppers to support small businesses and keep your dollars local this holiday season. It’s more important this year than ever before.

27 years of downtown history has included the Goelzers and their businesses, and we’re so grateful they continue to be a part of the future of Downtown Eau Claire.

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