January 19, 2020 – West Bend, WI – As the future of the old Shopko remains undecided… do you remember when the store was located in the strip that included SuperValu and the Westfair Mall in West Bend?
So …. here’s a trip down memory lane about the home of the Cookie Cone Cafe, the Westfair Mall. The article originally ran in Around the Bend in July 2005.
A quick history lesson on the old Westfair Mall. The mall, on South Main Street in West Bend used to be between the old Tennies Hardware, the old Toyworks and Pick N’ Save.
Back in the 1970’s the strip included a SuperValu, the Westfair Mall and Shopko.
“I remember a ramp connecting the mall to the Shopko,” said Mary Driscoll of West Bend who remembered stores like Bit’s N’ Pieces, Kindy Optical, West Bend Savings and Loan, George Webbs (owned by Ron Buck), the Shoe Rack which later became Nobel’s Shoe Store, Little Professor Book Store, JD Codys (a pants store), Canton House and Allen Hron Jewelers.
“My Dad had a jewelry store in the mall and another downtown, where the movie theater is,” said Andy Koehn from Koehn & Koehn Jewelers. “When the Westfair Mall opened it was brand new and sort of the big thing.”
Koehn said in today’s business climate, two stores in a community ‘that size’ would not have worked. “I remember going to visit that jewelry store and when we would be done, we’d go across to the Cookie Cone Café for bubble gum ice cream,” he said.
Koehn also recalled being dragged into the neighboring fabric store. “Well at seven, you’re with your mom and you don’t forget about it because it’s just an eternity when you’re in there,” he said of JulieAnn’s Fabrics.
“There were two sisters that owned that fabric shop,” said Jean Falk who worked for Helen Baierl and her sister Rose Marie Alf at the store for 10 years. “But that was when sewing was in its prime glory days when people sewed their curtains and their kid’s clothes and their prom dresses and their wedding dress.”
Falk remembered the Westfair Mall as a ‘quaint, cute place, like a community within a community.’ “There was the Shopko anchor store that led down a ramp into the mall,” said Falk. “Shopko also had its own craft store so you would leave the Shopko store, but you were still in the new little cute store in the mall where they sold yarns and knitting and just crafty stuff.”
Kindy Optical and Betty’s were also tenants at Westfair. “That was a woman’s clothing store and the carpeting was lime green but I can’t remember much more than that,” said Falk recalling the original George Webb’s and the Nobel Shoe Store. “That was a chain store in the 1970’s; they were all over the place,” she said.
“I also remember West Bend Savings and Loan had a tiny, little branch office in there. It was about as big as my bathroom at home,” said Falk who also vividly remembered the food at the Cookie Cone Café. “They made a tiny taco salad that was awesome.” Vera’s hair salon was one of the main attractions at Westfair. “That was the salon,” said Falk. “She was ahead of her time and for West Bend that was a really cool salon,” she said about the business which later became Rose Marie’s Hair Design.
“I remember there were big wooden clowns on the wall with balloons and stores had their names on the balloons,” said Rose Marie Kasten. who had 12 chairs in her salon. “I was actually the last one to leave the mall when it closed and I remember all the other stores moved out and it was scary at night for the employees, especially when you wanted to use the restroom way down the hall.”
Many who recalled the final days of the mall said the downturn occurred when Shopko moved across the street and businesses followed into the new, enclosed Paradise Mall.
Photos courtesy storesforever.blogspot.com