Level by level, Strawflower renovation brings changes to downtown Geneva

  • Strawflower Shop in Geneva is downsizing, and in the process, its owners plan to sell off unused space in the building; condos are a possibility.

      Strawflower Shop in Geneva is downsizing, and in the process, its owners plan to sell off unused space in the building; condos are a possibility. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted2/16/2020 7:20 AM

The "renovation sale" and "for sale" signs in the display windows at Strawflower Shop & Rug Merchant may confuse passersby. Still, they represent precisely what owners Mike and Susan Haas had in mind for their downtown Geneva store.

Knowing that it was time to downsize and maybe even consider moving the iconic shop that has been a key part of State Street since 1976, the owners had to face a downtown business reality. It wasn't likely any new downtown business was going to come along and need the three levels of the Strawflower building.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After all, they weren't going to see Henry's five-and-dime store looking to make a comeback in 2020. (For those new to the area, Henry's was your classic five-and-dime heaven in Geneva years ago.)

So Mike and Susan did the smart thing. They decided to open up the top level to potentially sell or lease space, renovate the main floor and use the lower level for storage.

All of the agreements weren't complete as of early last week, but Mike made it clear the plan was moving along well.

"The renovation sale went well, as we sold 80 percent of our third-floor inventory, which is what we wanted to do" to clear space, Mike said. "We are looking to downsize Strawflower Shop and use the first floor for retail, but we realized that a lot of our first floor was used for storage."

By opening up 1,400 square feet of space previously used for storage in the back part of the first floor, that area can now feature Susan's floral department, which had previously been in the lower level.

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"We are really excited about bringing that up to the first floor," Mike said.

As for the top level, Mike was waiting on some clarity from the city about some new codes that come into play. But it shouldn't deter him from working with the contractor and commercial real estate agent Neil Johnson to rent units or sell condos.

Of importance to many residents, the building's iconic clock tower won't be changing, though the store's sign might. And, most certainly, the interior will look much different.

"We are going to do a lot of cosmetic work in it," Mike said. "We are striving to get out of the 2004-to-2006 era and jump into 2020."

A bond with Badgers' band

It was a pleasant surprise nearly 35 years ago when the Wisconsin Band got local Badger faithful excited by performing during a St. Charles High School football game.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It all came about through the West Suburban Chicago Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, and staunch Wisconsin fans and alumni were always quick to let me know when the band might turn up again for indoor shows or football games.

And it did many times, with the most recent being the fall of 2016 at St. Charles East.

So, here we are again, with Wisconsin followers spreading the word that the band will make its ninth appearance in the Fox Valley with a 7 p.m. show Friday, Feb. 28 at the Norris Cultural Arts Center on the campus of St. Charles East.

"The local link to the Wisconsin Band remains strong," said Harrison Schneider, a member of the Chicago alumni chapter. "Four St. Charles North graduates in 2002 joined the Wisconsin Band."

Library plan has a date

When the wrecking ball started smashing parts of Haines Middle School in St. Charles a few weeks ago, those who don't keep tabs on what our schools and libraries are always up to thought the place was being leveled just to make room for the expanded Thompson campus.

What happens down the road may not be entirely clear, but for now, the plan has always been for the St. Charles Public Library to relocate to what is left of the Haines site for a year or more during the renovation of the library at 1 S. Sixth Ave.

That relocation process starts Monday, March 9, when workers begin moving the library collection to Haines. The library expects to be closed for three weeks to a month to complete that transfer.

Library events will take place in various other locations, and checking out and returning books and materials can take place online and picked up and returned at other library locations.

Blood and kindness

Organizers of the St. Patrick and St. John Neumann blood drive are pointing to the Monday, March 9, event as the perfect random act of kindness.

It also helps the cause when they say that donors at the 2 to 7:30 p.m. event at St. Patrick Church on Crane Road in St. Charles will be treated to a pulled pork sandwich and snacks.

In addition, donors will also receive a $10 Colonial Café gift certificate.

Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are welcome. Donors should have photo IDs with them. Those wanting to donate should contact Brian at (630) 443-8241 or Anne at (630) 584-5661.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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