Moving, But Staying Close: Unique Creations owners hope new downtown Rhinelander location inspires others to follow suitSubmitted: 03/20/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Moving, But Staying Close: Unique Creations owners hope new downtown Rhinelander location inspires others to follow suit
RHINELANDER - Old kitchen cabinets got a fresh coat of paint Tuesday morning in the back of an old building that Kate Bauman is bringing new life to.

"We really kind of want to make our home here," Bauman said.

Over the last few weeks, Bauman and her husband Elvis transformed 146 North Brown Street in Rhinelander from office space into a storefront for their store "Unique Creations."

"We decided to give it a whirl and it's really, really taken off in a way that we didn't expect it," Bauman said.

About two years ago, the Baumans opened the furniture painting and sign store about two blocks to the south at 51 S. Brown Street. When the couple found out that building owner wanted to sell, they started looking elsewhere and didn't need to look far.

"We're a family, we're a team, we just have to do it," Elvis Bauman said of the reason to move.

Elvis spent a month knocking down walls, installing a drop ceiling, and redoing the floors in the approximately 80-year-old building.

"I'm excited to stay in this location forever, I don't want to move again," Bauman said with a laugh.

That's a decision the Baumans don't take lightly. Kate says the $10 million Streetscape project -- which led to some stores deciding to move -- actually inspired her to adapt.

"It's a risk to stay anywhere, but I think the advantage to Brown Street is the fact of the more of the pedestrians, more of the walking traffic," Bauman said.

"Downtowns are living, breathing things, people move around," Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Maggie Steffen said.

Steffen sees a 50/50 split when downtown businesses decide to move: either to a different part of town versus moving up the street. Steffen says there's been a spike in interest in moving downtown now that construction is done.

"They're even getting advice from consultants and things that are saying the same things, so there seems to be a resurgence," Steffen said.

Steffen knows Rhinelander can't keep everyone downtown, admitting there are several vacant buildings. However, the Baumans want their business model -- what's old is new again -- to be a model for other business owners considering where they want to set up shop.

"It's kind of nice seeing where we started to where we've grown to where we might go," Bauman said.

Unique Creations will open for business again on Friday. Bauman expects people eating at Brown Street 151 and Jet's Dairy Bar will help their business take off.

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