A wish fulfilled: Mia's Wish skin care store now open on Third Street in Geneva
As a shopper along Third Street in Geneva, Maria Jucius admits she quickly became obsessed with the goal of someday opening a store along the popular retail strip.
More than a decade ago, she visited a plants/gardening store at 17 S. Third St., looked over the setting and told herself she wanted to open a store someday in that exact spot.
It was an odd thought, Jucius admitted, because she was a manager of 33 self-storage units at the time and opening her own business wasn't on her radar yet.
It is now -- in that exact 17 S. Third St. location, she opened Mia's Wish skin care products last week.
"I just felt at home there, I felt comfort, and I felt that I belonged," Jucius said of her long-ago visit. "Little did I know then that my wish would come true."
But she doesn't come into Geneva as a startup. Jucius, a resident of Plainfield, has operated a business for the past decade, developing skin care products to sell at craft shows and wholesale to small retailers.
Two years ago, she tested Mia's Wish as a branded store and was invited to enter a contest called the Battle of the Pop-Up in Bolingbrook. She won the contest and the opportunity to set up a retail store at the Bolingbrook Promenade free of charge for six months. Mia's Wish quickly became a permanent fixture there.
"The first place I searched for a second location was Geneva," Jucius said. "And the exact store that had caught my eye had actually become available at the exact time I was looking."
With the Bolingbrook site closed for a couple of months because of the pandemic, Jucius wasn't sure whether the second store in Geneva could be possible.
"One thing I learned in business is that when times are tough, you don't give up," she said. "There was no way I was going to let this pandemic ruin everything I have worked so hard for over the years."
And she didn't. She reopened the Bolingbrook site and focused on opening Geneva with pandemic precautions in place.
She can now show what Mia's Wish is all about, with more than 150 products available, ranging from soaps, body lotions and foot care products to perfume, bath soaks, herbal salves, lip-care products and much more.
It's also the result of working in a retail setting since she was 7 years old, helping her parents run a jewelry store, and also dabbling with a passion for creating skin care products.
"I am the creator and formulator of our products," she said. "Mia's Wish represents products that were once a 'wish' or notion I thought of, and then I had to figure out how to make them."
Jucius has a fairly simple "slogan" for her retail operation.
"I often tell people that Mia's Wish is a place where 'thoughts turn into things.'"
Shoppers along Third Street can check out those things from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
For those independents:
The small, independent bookstores have their own "day" set aside for them on Saturday, Aug. 29, as they celebrate what essentially is an American lifestyle icon.
We love our bookstores of all sizes, but the small ones operated by those passionate about the written word certainly resonate.
We're lucky to have some excellent independent bookstores in our area with Townhouse Books in St. Charles, Harvey's Tales in Geneva and The Book Shop in Batavia. If you get a chance, visit one tomorrow.
A welcome change:
Geneva is likely to be pleased with the result after city officials approved the building of an apartment complex in what is now the vacated Duke and Lee's auto shop at 609 S. Third St.
There were detractors, of course, but the city certainly doesn't want that parcel to sit decaying over the next several years.
And it wasn't likely that some restaurant or retail business was going to set up shop on that side of the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
But reader Joseph Stephano reminds me that before Duke and Lee's set up shop years ago, a restaurant called Robert's Drive-In operated at that site.
"I don't remember much about it, other than they had the best fish fry on Friday," Stephano said.
For his part, Stephano was wishing Wildwood restaurant would have built a site there, rather than just closing along Third Street. "I miss them," he said.
Easing heavy burden:
Losing a loved one to substance abuse leaves a heavy heart and burden -- one that can be made lighter by talking to and supporting others experiencing the same loss.
St. Peter Church in Geneva has established a new ministry dedicated to helping those with this type of loss, offering a place to share stories with others.
Members of this ministry are encouraged to bring a picture of their loved one when the group meets from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month in the church's Muldoon Room.
Those interested can share as much or as little as they are comfortable with and attend as often or as few times as they like.
Information is available by contacting David Pens at (815) 210-6920 or at email@example.com.
Reservations are appreciated, but not necessary. Those attending will practice social distancing and wear masks.
They like it clean:
A few readers thanked me for noting it is always a good idea for downtown business owners, especially those operating bars or restaurants, to keep their sidewalks clean of cigarette butts and other debris.
We're lucky to have clean city streets and sidewalks for the most part in the Tri-Cities region, but it can get away from us if we look the other way.
Littering has always been a bit of a sore spot with me. I suspect it comes from growing up in the 1950s and early '60s when littering was such a national concern that public service ads on TV kept reminding us not to be such pigs.
Folks of a certain age likely remember the ad showing people tossing garbage from their cars onto highways and a Native American shedding a tear over such recklessness on once pristine land.
In the past 30 years or so, we've unfortunately gone beyond even the worst of those past decades as plastic bags and cups on the ground have become common at retail strip malls and surrounding properties.
Or the stuff blowing off recycling trucks or from retail areas ends up cluttering nearby fields or neighborhoods. Driving along Kirk Road one year, I was stunned to see a field with literally hundreds of plastic bags and paper products strewn across it.
It's why I volunteered for years with my service club to "adopt a highway" in the county's cleanup program and fill huge garbage bags with litter every month.
It makes me quick to remind everyone to make sure their garbage ends up in a bin, and for business owners to be responsible if patrons are littering their area.
The plastic and paper that blows from a business property into the yards of nearby homes or streets remind us why that Native American was shedding a tear.