My Biz: Owner of Garden Wren in Cedar Rapids watches her business grow

After a transplant, business owner has more plans

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This past weekend the Garden Wren had a soft opening in its new location — a newly constructed retail space next to the Czech Cottage on 16th Avenue SW in Czech Village.

“So many people have stopped to welcome me to the neighborhood,” owner Cheryl Sheeley recalled.

Sheeley, who said she plans to host a grand opening celebration later this month, first opened the Garden Wren in 2004, creating flower arrangements from her home in Palo. She moved into the Cherry Building in 2011 and expanded to offering knitting supplies and a gathering space for those who wanted to knit with others.

Knowing her lease in the Cherry Building would be up earlier this summer, she knew she had to make a decision to either stay in the Cherry Building, find a new home for The Garden Wren or retire. After discussing with family friends, Cheryl quickly realized she had too much creative energy left to retire.

Sheeley was driving along 16th Avenue SW to deliver some wedding flowers when this particular building caught her eye. She stopped to take a look and happened to run into the landlord.

“I had no real reason to move, but I did have the choice and after seeing this space it felt right in my gut. That’s always been my guide in business, just do what feels right,” she said, adding she selected the new location because of the patio next door. “We are going to help develop a garden in the courtyard and plan to have flower-arranging classes out there.”

Sheeley also plans to offer more knitting classes and other events such as themed dinners and pop-up art gallery displays. “The hardest part about all of this is that I am in love with the Cherry Building,” said Sheeley. “I had amazing landlords there and it was a hard decision to leave such a good, comfortable situation. The Cherry Building is a destination location and finding my shop in it was often a discovery for people.”

With her new location, Sheeley is excited to offer regular retail hours. She will continue to create flower arrangements for every day and special occasions and expand her product lines in yarn, knitting accessories and patterns, as well as now offering ceramic bells and vases.

Sheeley has collaborated with local artisan Deborah Sewell to create a line of clothing for women and children.

“Our Wren clothing line is simple, organic and linen and features matching mom and baby pieces,” she said.

As proof that her creative spirit still is blooming, Sheeley has also begun experimenting with floralography — photography of floral arrangements — and has started printing her photos on fabric and paper, including wrapping paper and wallpaper.

“We have evolved to a certain look that represents the Garden Wren and this space will visually represent that,” she said.

Of course, long-time customers of the Garden Wren also still will be able to treat the shop as a home away from home. “In this space we will be retail focused with a balance of creative work space,” Sheeley said. “One of the fun things about The Garden Wren is that we have brought so many people together who continue to be friends and that has been really rewarding to see.”

AT A GLANCE

Owner: Cheryl Sheeley

Company: Garden Wren

Address: 127 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids

Phone: (319) 241-9987

Website: thegardenwren.com and https://www.facebook.com/gardenwren

l Know a business in operation for more than a year that would make a good “My Biz”? Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com

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