Home decor shop plans expansion

Monday, June 7, 2004

When Mike and Sherry Yaeger opened their first home decor shop in Cape Girardeau amid the tumult of September 2001, many of their friends thought they were crazy. But, refusing to be deterred by skeptics, the Yaegers kept after their vision. In the years since, their Renaissance has thrived. Now, the Yaegers are preparing to unveil an expansion that will almost double the current size of their store at the corner of Main and Broadway.

In April 2002, Renaissance moved from its original home at 33 N. Main, into the corner building at 139 N. Main that formerly housed Hale's Casual Corner. As business continued to blossom, the Yaegers first expanded back, knocking down walls to occupy three more storefronts up Broadway, across from the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Now they are moving along Main Street, expanding into the two rooms next door, formerly Hale's Fine Jewelry.

"We told the Hales that if the store ever came up for sale, we'd like a shot at it," said Mike Yaeger. "We just didn't think it would happen this quickly."

Since Hale's closed in February, the Yaegers have been working hard to clean, paint and prepare the new expansion in hopes of a Fourth of July weekend opening. The expansion of floor space will translate into an expanded bath and body department and a bigger European-accented antique and vintage wares section. The bigger Renaissance will also offer a wider variety of gourmet foods, a new book department and reading room, and a new bridal and baby section. All will be decorated to fit Sherry Yaeger's distinctive artistic vision, including murals painted by the owner herself.

"It's all about atmosphere," Sherry Yaeger said. "We want a place where the whole family can be entertained. We want to make this place a destination."

As a guest book whose pages feature customers from Indiana, Texas, Mississippi and South Dakota all in the last couple of weeks can attest, the Yaegers seem well on their way to doing just that.

Riverview open: Just up Broadway from the burgeoning Renaissance, another new business shingle has been hung. On April 1, Dr. Judy Statler opened Riverview Counseling at 115 Broadway.

Statler is a nationally certified licensed professional counselor with 25 years of experience in California, St. Louis County, Cape Girardeau and Jackson school districts, where she's worked as teacher, counselor and at-risk coordinator. Her private practice focuses on being available and responsive to the behavioral, emotional and psychological needs of children, adults and families.

Broadway Sports Cards to close: After 14 years of peddling sports cards and collectibles in Cape Girardeau, Broadway Sports Cards has decided to shut down. Bill Foster, the store manager for the past 11 years, cited two reasons.

The first, he said, is that owners Tom Rebert and Jerry Bittle decided Internet trading and eBay have made the market soft and the need for a physical facility superfluous.

"Why have the overhead of an employee, rent and utilities?" Foster said. Along that line, Foster said that he believes the owners will move a lot of what they have left after closing over the Internet.

The second reason is that Foster has chosen a different career path. He now has a teaching contract elsewhere and will work his last day at the store at 1856 Broadway on Aug. 13.

In the meantime, the store is liquidating its assets, and the building, which is owned by Rebert and Bittle, is for sale. Rebert said the store's last day of operation will be when the building sells or when the inventory is gone, whichever comes first.

Pizza on Sprigg?: Loy Welker, owner of the strip mall at 820 N. Sprigg, said he is currently in negotiations with a Chicago-based pizza restaurant, which he did not name, to occupy the section of the building that formerly housed DC'z Cafe.

In the same strip mall, Welker said, it's his understanding that U-Tan -- formerly Tan It All -- will expand its operations, annexing an adjacent vacant part of the strip mall to double its size.

Welker said a firm timetable has not yet been set for either transaction.

Mapempire invades the Web: Cape native David Compas' company flibble/SeMO is pushing a new Web site that gives geography buffs a single Web hub for all their needs. Mapempire.com allows visitors to shop and compare maps, charts, atlases, guides and remote sensing from hundreds of different sources for North America. Compas' site lists and links more than 1,000 sites and stores at which amateur cartographers can shop.

Compas said the site is constantly expanding and that he hopes to include European sources soon.

Express Fuel up and pumping: Over the Memorial Day weekend, Russ and Kim Mothershead held the grand opening of their new convenience store/fueling station at Exit 80 off of Interstate 55 just outside of Benton, Mo. Express Fuel Center now offers farmer-friendly ethanol blend fuel and trucker-friendly diesel to I-55 travelers. It also features 24-hour pay-at-the-pump for nighttime travelers.

In addition to fuel, the convenience store boasts a deli that serves a mean barbecue pork tender loin on toast, with a choice of three sauces. About the only thing the store doesn't sell is beer and alcohol. Mothershead associate Dawn Haupt said this is in consideration for nearby Kelly School.

Haupt also noted that the Mothersheads have an eye open to future development on the 10-acre site, though there are no specific plans on the table.

Tony Rehagen is the business editor for the Southeast Missourian. Send your comments, business news, information or questions to Tony Rehagen, 301 Broadway, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63702-0699, e-mail trehagen@ semissourian.com or call 335-6611, extension 137.

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