Open for less than six months, Oconto boutique expanding twice
May 27, 2022
Green Bay Press-Gazette
OCONTO – Just a few months after opening a women’s clothing boutique in Oconto, Magan Holz was already eyeing a second location in Oconto Falls.
Soon, though, she will have three Olive + Birch shops.
The Lakewood site – which initially is open only Saturdays and Sundays – is located between Sweet Memories Candy Shoppe and Subway in the former Trillium Boutique building at 15351 State 32. A soft opening is planned for Memorial Day weekend, with a grand opening in June.
The second location in Oconto Falls, at a location yet to be announced, is scheduled to open this summer.
“I’m definitely proud to be part of Oconto, and I look forward to seeing what Oconto Falls and Lakewood have to offer and what I can offer them,” Holz said. “The new boutiques will carry the same style of clothing as Oconto, but all three locations will have a different collection.”
Holz is the go-to fashion consultant among her group of friends. An off-hand remark from one — “Why not open a boutique?” — planted the seed that became Olive + Birch.
She first started with a website, olivebirchboutique.com, which went live last November, in hopes it would lead to a retail outlet.
That came much sooner than she expected. Samantha Boucher of Oconto County Economic Development Corp. helped her obtain a $10,000 grant from the Main Street BounceBack Program, opening the Oconto store on Jan. 15,
Holz took over the space that housed Be-You-Tiful Boutique, which had been open about 3½ years when it was closed after the pandemic began. It only reopened for special events and weekends during the holiday season.
Customer response has been favorable at the Oconto boutique, located across from Associated Bank at 1102 Main St.
“It’s been wonderful,” Holz said. “I get a lot of people who come in and say they love the style. They’re happy they have someplace local to shop.”
In April, Holz was close to deal that would allow her to open a second store in Oconto Falls. But that fell through.
In a subsequent conversation, Boucher asked Holz if she would consider Lakewood instead.
“I discussed this with my girlfriend, Jen (Clements), and we decided to go for it,” Holz said.
To help finance the expansion, Holz secured a $10,000 microloan through OCEDC, which was used to purchase inventory and to make a down payment on the Lakewood building.
“The microloan will help me get a good start there, because I could purchase the Lakewood property without pulling money out of the current boutique,” she said.
But then Holz had another major decision to make — whether to keep her separate full-time job.
Since moving to Oconto last August to be closer to Clements and her son’s father, Holz had continued to travel each week to southern Wisconsin, where she was employed in sales, marketing and system administration at a manufacturing company
The Janesville native is in the office Monday and Tuesday each week, while working remotely Wednesday through Friday.
“With the purchase and having the two locations (in Oconto and Lakewood), I decided it was time to take the plunge and turn in my notice to my full-time job so that I could really focus on the boutiques,” she explained.
Then things took another turn.
Just one day after meeting with her boss, Holz learned that the original site for the Oconto Falls store was again available.
“Jen and I decided, ‘let’s go big,’ and we are taking that location on as well,” she said. “Oconto Falls is set to open in July, and I can’t wait!”
Olive + Birch Boutique carries casual and dressy women’s clothing in sizes small to 2X, with a small selection of styles up to 4X. Selections include tops, pants, and dresses, plus jewelry, hats, and other accessories. The shop is open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
The store also carries Inspire, the athletic clothing line created by Clements, owner of Inspire Fitness, a 24-hour gym in Oconto.
OCEDC has made 21 low-interest micro business loans over the since late 2016, including four last year and four so far this year. They are available to small business owners who want to expand their businesses, purchase equipment, or need extra working capital for other expenses.
To qualify, businesses must have annual sales under $1 million and fewer than 25 employees. Other factors may also be considered. Microloans are available at an interest rate as low as 3% for up to five years. Loans range from $1,000 to $10,000.
To date, 40 businesses in Oconto County have received Bounceback grants, with another 14 in the pipeline but not yet approved, Boucher said. The application deadline for Bounceback grants, which can be used to help new and existing businesses open a new location or expand operations, was recently extended to Dec. 31.
To apply for a micro business loan or Main Street Bounceback grant, visit ocontocounty.org or contact the OCEDC office at 1113 Main St., Oconto; call 920-834-6969 or email email@example.com.
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