Kendra Wiesemeyer wasn’t sure it was right for her new store at first, but when she found a distinctive vacant shop space in downtown Hudson this summer, she kept coming back.
“I kept gravitating to this space because it just had the look and feel we were looking for,” Wiesemeyer said of the location, which features massive, rough-hewn ceiling beams; singular windows and lighting; and eclectic nuances everywhere you look.
“It just really fit well with the décor we’re going for.”
The 715, Wiesemeyer’s new “rustic industrial” furniture and home-furnishings business, opened at 524 Second St. in mid-November.
And judging from the steady stream of walk-in customers during a Hudson Star-Observer interview at the store last week, many downtown shoppers have already found a home there.
“It’s been a wonderful response,” she said. “A lot of people have come back several times, and they tell us, ‘Every time we come in, we see something special.’ They bring their friends in too.”
Wiesemeyer added: “We wanted to open by the holiday season and get a feel from our customers about what they’re looking for. … As I’ve told many customers, ‘I don’t want you to buy something here just to buy it. I want you to love what you buy.’”
To that end, Wiesemeyer designed The 715 to match the Hudson area’s unique personality while also creating an equally unique downtown presence.
“We wanted to be different for Hudson, and we wanted to respect that for all the other downtown stores as well -- we’re trying not to do any crossover,” she explained.
Asked to define The 715’s rustic-industrial theme, Wiesemeyer’s husband Chris, a pharmaceuticals salesman who helps out at the store as needed, got the ball rolling this way: “That’s the heart of it: You can’t really describe it. … This is not typical furniture and furnishings. It’s more of a natural look.”
Kendra picked it up with a few more details: “Our product line includes anything from jewelry to prints for the walls to custom furniture and custom signs. We try to keep the organic feel of the place with everything we offer. … It’s all a work in progress.”
She added: “A lot of it is a combination of metal and wood –- sort of rustic-chic. … It’s unique pieces that can be custom-designed, everything from Amish hickory to willow from Minnesota. We have 40 to 50 vendors from Hayward to Amish country in Wisconsin and beyond -– we just picked up a vendor today from Viroqua.”
@t:For Kendra, The 715 offered the perfect opportunity to combine all of the skills she’s acquired over the years.
A former art teacher from a family that “has retail stores all over northern Minnesota,” Wiesemeyer once did the windows for Dayton’s in the Twin Cities. She’s also worked in a home-building company and is a licensed realtor as well.
“This, for me, is more of a creative process, which really hits back to my art degree,” she said. “So, between my retail experience, my art degree and selling houses, it all just blended in perfectly.”
The Wiesemeyers moved to Hudson from St. Louis in 2001, in part to be closer to family in the Gopher State.
Their oldest son, Elliott is now a 19-year-old “super senior” at Hudson High School, where his younger brother Henrik, 18, is also a senior.
“They’ve both gone through the whole Hudson school system, from kindergarten on,” Kendra noted proudly.
She continued: “I’ve always been involved in retail in one way or another, so now that the kids are getting older, this store just seemed like a natural fit for me. It kind of reflects our lifestyle in general. I’ve built a lot of relationships over the years in the retail industry, so I was familiar with the products.”
Henrik works at the store part-time as “an opportunity for understanding how to run a business.”
Eventually, Wiesemeyer also plans to include local students with autism among The 715’s staff, which at this stage is mainly a devoted collection of friends who’ve volunteered to help get the business started.
She specifically mentioned Stacey Pelto, who’s been involved in everything from making price tags to customer service, and Kandice Collins, who has helped with buying, inside sales and much more.
She also gave special recognition to four other helpers by their first names only: Karen, Susan, Dana and Amy.
“They all were so supportive. They helped us price things; they helped us go to market and a lot of other things,” Wiesemeyer noted. “They helped us with whatever we needed in the store so we could get our feet on the ground.”
The 715 is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, drop in, call (715) 381-8175, check out The 715’s Facebook page or visit its website at the715hudson.com.