Steve Cahalan: Petting zoo completes Nordic Creamery’s retail store in Westby | business


By Steve Cahalan For the La Crosse Tribune

With its new petting zoo, Nordic Creamery has finished developing its retail store at 202 W. Old Towne Road, on the west side of Hwy. 14/61, at the south edge of Westby.

The store opened in April 2021 and replaced one that had been on the farm (about five miles away) where Nordic Creamery owners Al and Sarah Bekkum produce their specialty cheeses and butters from cow, sheep and goat milk. The store sells both food and non-food merchandise.

The petting zoo opened on July 22 and features such farm animals as goats, sheep, steers and Sven, a year-old miniature horse. “We’re going to kind of rotate them in and out,” Sarah Bekkum said of the animals.

The Bekkums created the petting zoo next to a huge farm mural that they arranged to have painted on the side of a building.

“We just thought it would bring more people to our store,” Sarah Bekkum said. “And that it would create more of a family experience for people who are looking for something to do.”

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The petting zoo is open (weather permitting) during store hours, which are 10 am to 5 pm Monday through Saturday and 11 am to 3 pm Sunday.

While the store is open year-round, the petting zoo will be seasonal. “It will be open through Labor Day for sure,” Sarah Bekkum said of the petting zoo. “And if the weather’s still beautiful, maybe a couple more weekends after that.” The petting zoo will reopen in the spring.

For more information, call the store at 608-634-FARM (3276) or visit www.nordiccreamery.com or the creamery’s Facebook page.

Amber Blomquist started Wisconsin Cookie Co. in June in West Salem.

Her new business makes custom-made coozies, and has made them for things like bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, retirement parties, birthdays, vacations, girls nights, funerals, holidays and class reunions.

“Our most popular kind is the slim coozies used for seltzers or slim cans,” Blomquist said. “We can do custom orders from one to 100-plus. No order is too big or too small.”

Wisconsin Cookie Co. makes coozies primarily as beverage holders, but also makes coozies that hold such things as Popsicles.

“I offer a variety of sizes and colors,” Blomquist said. “Some examples include normal cans for soda, beer, etc., as well as slim cans, drive-through sleeves for things like coffee and McDonald’s drinks, coozies for Popsicles and coozies for pints of ice cream.”

Blomquist said the new business also sells Midwest Merchandise items that she makes, such as apparel and hats centered around Midwest humor such as “you betcha,” and other Wisconsin designs.

She sells on Facebook and at craft shows, festivals, pop-up boutiques and collaborations with other local establishments. “I am not currently in any other retail stores, but I do see wholesale in our near future,” she said.

Blomquist also owns Creative Bee Boutique, which she started in 2020 during the pandemic. It sells custom shirts, cups, signs, coozies and more “crafty items,” she said.

For more information, call 608-704-9039, email wisconsincoozieco@gmail.com or visit Wisconsin Coozie Co.’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

The Burger King restaurant that closed in 2017 at 1124 W. George St. in La Crosse may be demolished soon.

Eagle Bay Properties LLC, which owns that building as well as the adjacent Bridgeview Plaza shopping center property, has applied to the city of La Crosse for a conditional-use permit that would allow it to demolish the former restaurant for green space.

The building is in disrepair, hasn’t been used since Burger King closed, and its owner thinks that demolishing it would help in marketing the site for redevelopment, city staff members told La Crosse Common Council and city plan commission members in a report that recommended approving the application.

The plan commission and the council’s judiciary and administration committee recommended approval at their meetings last week. The full council is expected to vote on the application on Thursday.

I have one new detail about the three-unit building that’s gone up next to the Chick-fil-A restaurant that will open this fall at the former Fauver Hill School site on the east side of Hwy. 16, south of Interstate 90, in Onalaska.

A sketch on the Onalaska project’s webpage was updated in the past week to show that Caribou Coffee will occupy the space on the south end, a Mattress Firm mattress store will occupy the center space and Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant will occupy the building’s north end . The identities of the three tenants first surfaced publicly in March. The update shows the space that each will occupy.

As I reported in last Sunday’s column, a Caribou Coffee spokesperson says that company hopes its Caribou Cabin in that location will open in late fall. Five Guys and Mattress Firm haven’t responded to my inquiries about their timetables.

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