Steel Street Trading Company celebrates 20 years
By Paige Grzenia
ALGOMA – Steel Street Trading Company and Gallery in Algoma is celebrating 20 years.
The store carries exotic plants and was voted Best of Kewaunee County 2017.
According to their website, “The gallery space is filled with the work of local artists and gifts inspired by water. We also carry Local Raw Honey, Indulgence Chocolate, Backroads Gourmet Coffee, White Winter Mead, and so much more. We are more than just a flower shop. Our art gallery is a gallery without white walls with an eclectic vibe.”
The owner, Lynn Heidemann shared how she became the owner of the store.
“I’ve always been intrigued with the architecture…and the building was for sale. So, the owner, R. J. Weber, shot me an offer and it’s like, cool, I’m going to buy this, but it was in pretty sad shape. So, we started with the exterior,” said Heidemann.
“Al Reinhart was in one side of the retail area, and he was coming close to retirement, so we helped him move and we opened a nautical gift shop. We rented out the flower shop to the person that had been in there and we were trying to get her to sign a year lease. Anyway, in negotiations, we made the decision or my ex-husband, that, well, this will be a good idea to run a flower shop…so, we gave her a 60 day notice, and I became a florist. I had no clue what I was doing, but thank goodness, within like two months, Jay Palazzo walked in and he had had a small flower shop out of his home, an incredible artist, so the timing was perfect.”
“And actually, his mentor, Brad Hoffman, was coming into town to help his parents go to assisted living and that was, again, Jay’s mentor. So, between the two gentlemen, I figured out this industry and it’s now history, 20 years later.”
When asked about her favorite part of owning the business has been, Heidemann said, “the people I’ve met have been incredible. And just the things that we did to this building, like the upstairs, we completely gutted it and tried to bring the building back to its former glory.
“On one side, you know, where Al Reinhart was, we had the nautical gift shop, but I was watching a lot of trended changes, more online sales and things of that sort, that, and free shipping that we couldn’t compete with, and I was intrigued with the art movement that was coming back to Algoma, so I thought, okay, enough with the nautical, let’s celebrate local artists.
“And I wanted to unify the building ‘cause it seemed like it was separate. Well, you have Steel Street Floral, Good Settings Nautical Gifts and I wanted to bring it all together, so people knew that it was one complete space. So, then I transitioned to Steel Street Trading Company and Gallery home of Steele Street Floral.”
When asked what the biggest factor that contributed to the 20 years of success, Heidemann said, “loyal customers, being able to be creative, thinking outside the box.”
Heidemann noted that when she first got her building, there were many vacancies around her and she wasn’t on the main path that people would go down, so she had to figure out a way to attract customers.
She did this by buying two full-sized pirates for the store.
“And they’re known as ‘The Boyz’. So, for the most part, in the summer, they’re out every day and it is so much fun watching people take pictures and selfies with them,” said Heidemann.
Heidmann also mentioned her love of Algoma.
“I just think that we have an incredible downtown. My neighbors are wonderful. And as new businesses open, I get so excited and I’m happy to promote them. Because the more that we have here, the more it’s going to attract people to come and visit,” said Heidemann.
Lastly, Heidemann shared some advice for other business owners.
“Patience and again, thinking outside the box. How can we creatively do something that is a service or something that people would want, but good customer service I think is the key because we are in such a world of the World Wide Web and purchasing online and especially the art. That’s something personal. You feel an emotional connection to it that I don’t think you’ll ever get online.”