The Bird Nest, located at 116 N. Bridge Street in Chippewa Falls, is an eclectic mix, carrying everything from essential oils, custom furniture and clothes to candles, homemade signs and garden items.
Courtney Anders and her mother, Jennifer Anders, co-own the store, which also hosts crafting classes and private parties.
The Chippewa Herald sat down with Courtney Anders to talk about starting a new business and finding a niche. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: So how long have you owned The Bird Nest?
A: We have been here since October of 2017, so about a year and a half, closer to that two year mark.
Q: Do you own it just by yourself?
A: Actually my mom is the co-owner in the business, we went in on it 50/50. She’s takes care of the store and makes stuff, and then I do all our paperwork, taxes, ordering and stuff, plus the store.
Q: When you describe what you do or sell, how do you tell people about it?
A: Our store is kind of like a … home décor gift shop. It’s unique, to me, because we make about half of the stuff in here and we do custom orders as well. I’m actually in the process of getting big stickers for the window made, so people know more about that.
We do a lot of custom stuff, people come in and say, “I’ve seen this sign, or I like this thing, can you make me a sign?” We do all kinds of signs, outdoor, indoor, on wood, glass. We’ve even done 3D ones with wood lettering or metal lettering.
So we do a lot of that, we do the floral arrangements, the wreaths. Just kind of little bits of everything.
Q: How did you get into custom sign making?
A: Both of us have always had very crafty skills, we make a lot of different things. I love the funny sayings that you read on things, and I wanted to be able to give that to people other than on a shirt, or on a mass-produced thing.
Q: So what would you say people know your store for?
A: People know us for the unique items we have in the store. They can come in here, and whether it’s something we’ve made or something we’ve purchased and brought into the store, we find things you can’t go to a big box store and buy.
They can come in here and find something for just about anybody they’re looking for.
Q: Is gift shopping pretty standard here?
A: Yes, we get a lot of people shopping for gifts, we get a lot of realtors that are doing closing gifts for their customers. I have probably four or five realtors that every time they sell a house they come in and buy something.
Q: What was the inspiration behind the store?
A: I’ve always wanted to own my own business, and I’m very good with people, I’ve always been in an industry where I’ve worked with people, whether it be in a restaurant or in a store front, but I’ve just always wanted to own my own business and be able to run it the way I want to.
And I told myself “you know what, we’re going to see if it succeeds, if I know what I’m doing and I can figure it out.”
I went to school for interior design, but I never finished school. My mom never went to school either, she worked at home, worked on the farm her whole life while we were growing up. She always did craft shows in the winter time.
So one day I said, “Mom, I don’t like my job anymore, I want to own my own store. Do you want to do it with me?” And she kind of said, “What, you quit?”
And I said, “Yup, I’m opening up a store do you want to do it with me?” She said, “Alright, let’s do it.”
And we’re about two years in now.
Q: That’s a big switch.
A: It is! I quit my job and about a month and a half later we opened up the store.
Q: Have the items in the store changed over time?
A: Yes. So when we first opened we thought the store looked absolutely great, we had lots of stuff in here, and it was basically just decorated like somebody’s house. It would look nice, but you would sell a thing here or there and then there was basically nothing in here.
So the store has extremely expanded. It’s completely different, the way we display things, what we have in here, how much we have in here.
Q: And do you just make those choices based off of what people wanted in the past?
A: What people are buying, yes. Because when we first opened we thought maybe, because we were close to the lake … we thought it would be the more cabiny stuff. That stuff definitely does not sell like I thought it would in this area. We sell a little bit here and there, so we do have a little section. It’s not really farmhouse like I thought it would be either.
It’s a mix of everything, so we have to be sort of careful what we order.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people to know about your store?
A: We teach craft classes also, more so in the winter than in the summertime. I do a different class every week, but I do it twice a week. We do it on a week night and then also try to do it on the weekend.
Now in the summer people are so busy with other stuff I just have it on request.
But what I do is I make something up, I schedule the classes, and people can sign up for it. We’ve done wood signs, we’ve done flower arrangements, we’ve done the lighted glass boxes with sayings on them, string art, all kinds of stuff.
Q: Is that for private groups as well?
A: When I do it for the classes we get groups of people or one or two people who sign up so it ends up being around five to eight people. But I also have certain groups of ladies who have done it who like doing it only with their friends, so they sign up for individual classes.
We allow people to bring in food and drinks, so people can sit down there and actually have a party. We have a private party booked here in June, actually, they’re going to come and do some string art.