FULDA — A Fulda man with nearly 40 years of experience in the construction business has breathed new life into a pair of side-by-side storefronts in downtown Fulda.
Earlier this month, one of those storefronts opened its doors. Named The Store, the business features many one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and wooden home decor items handcrafted by Randy Dierks and his son, Ted. To expand their offerings, they invited seven local small business operators — from a quilter to a soap maker, a boutique owner and a card maker — to bring in a selection of their products to sell as well.
The Store opened Feb. 1, and thus far, Dierks said he’s been overwhelmed by the response.
“Business has been very good — way beyond our expectations,” he said.
Dierks builds furniture from both new and reclaimed wood, and also repurposes pieces in his Fulda shop. The Store gives him an outlet to make uncommissioned pieces, as well as take special orders for everything from tables to hutches.
“We do many, many, many special orders — if something is not quite the right size or not quite the right color,” he said.
Dierks also has equipment that allows him to carve lettering into wood for home decor pieces, and said he makes a lot of sports signs and beer caddies with sports logos. He’s also planning to have a selection of urns in the store, which can be personalized, he added.
With the items Dierks and his son make, as well as the local crafters, Dierks said he’s pleased with the variety The Store offers.
“It’s always been my dream to have a shop — to make things and have a place to sell them,” he said. When the downtown jewelry store and drug store closed — the latter six years ago — he eyed the buildings and hoped they would come up for sale.
Last November, Dierks’ wish came true when he purchased the two buildings and quickly went to work on renovations.
“We got down to the old original wood that we see in here now,” he said. “It just took some cleaning up and painting and it was perfect. It was probably a little more work than we anticipated.”
A soon-to-open coffee shop, SheBrews, will occupy the second storefront. The new business hopes to be open by the end of the month, Dierks said.
Additional plans involve renovations to the upstairs of The Store, which Dierks would like to see used as a combination art study and classroom.
“In the future we’re going to be offering art classes and some wine and canvas (events),” he said. “There are many different things that people have expressed interest in teaching.
“One thing I’m looking forward to is a couple of Saturdays a month where we can have kids come in for a learning experience — I can teach them how to make a birdhouse,” Dierks added. “We’ve got a lot of talented people in the area, and we’re hoping to get them involved and teach kids. That’s my next wish.”
As for The Store, it operates on volunteer labor, with Ann Witzel being an integral part of the business. She and the other vendors take turns manning the shop.
“I can build this stuff, but I don’t know how to display it,” said Dierks.
The Store, 116 St. Paul Ave., Fulda, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays; 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Randy and Denise Dierks are The Store's owners.