Sophie Bolich

Midwest Shores Opening in Iron Block Building

Shop selling fossils, crystals and polished rocks is located downtown—just a stone's throw from Penzeys Spices.

By - Sep 1st, 2022 02:17 pm
Midwest Shores will open a shop in the Iron Block Building, 205 E. Wisconsin Ave. Photo taken Sept. 1, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Midwest Shores will open a shop in the Iron Block Building, 205 E. Wisconsin Ave. Photo taken Sept. 1, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

A new shop selling crystals, fossils and polished rocks will open this weekend in the East Town neighborhood.

Midwest Shores, 207 E. Wisconsin Ave., will take up residence in a 298-square-foot retail stall at the Iron Block Building.

For many, extra downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be a stepping stone to a new venture, but for Shannon Kanack stones were the new venture.

With schools, offices and most other destinations shut down, Kanack started exploring the shores of Lake Michigan—with her sister, Samantha Pechauer and four kids in tow—collecting interesting-looking rocks along the way.

“As we were researching one of the rocks we found, we realized that people actually buy them,” Kanack told Urban Milwaukee in an interview.

Out of curiosity, the sisters listed some of the rocks on an old Etsy account that Pechauer had set up but never used. From there, “it took off pretty quickly,” Kanack said.

What started as a few Etsy listings grew to include an online shop, local pop-ups and starting Saturday, Sept. 3, a full-time storefront.

“Next thing you know, we’re buying hundreds of pounds of rocks every few months to tumble and polish,” she said.

The business now carries products from wholesalers throughout the U.S., China and Brazil, but Kanack and Pechauer still source much of their inventory from here in Milwaukee.

“Together, we’ve just made a really good team,” Kanack said.

Kanack, who previously worked as a research technologist at Versiti, handles accounting and coordinates with wholesalers. She also does lapidary work like engraving, polishing and carving crystals and stones for the shop. Pechauer’s background is in retail, so she works the front end. The kids are still involved too, tagging along to pick rocks at the lake and helping out with small tasks at the shop.

Kanack said that she and Pechauer “jokingly” spoke of one day opening a brick-and-mortar shop, but never thought it would happen so soon.

“We sort of fell into it,” Kanack said. “We found this location and the owners really liked our website and sort of like the vibe we would bring to the building,” she added. “It kind of fits in with what they’re hoping to fill the other spaces with.”

Dental Associates bought the five-story building in 2012 and completed a historically-sensititive restoration in 2014. Its offices are on the building’s upper floors and the first-floor retail spaces are leased to tenants.

Penzeys Spices opened in 2020 and occupies the largest retail space. The 633-square-foot storefront next door to Midwest Shores is soon to be Ados Blooms, a florist. The final space, according to Kanack, may become a studio for a local artist.

Midwest Shores will officially open Saturday, Sept. 3. Hours for the initial opening will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. To celebrate the opening, every purchase over $25 will receive a free gift while supplies last.

The business will continue to operate its online shop and Etsy store.

Regular hours will be posted to the Midwest Shores Facebook page.


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