Business

The Shop Iowa City opens in 'ideal' site

Co-owners scour auctions, estate sales

Kate Dreyer, co-owner, talks with a customer as she places items in a bag at the Shop Iowa City in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Kate Dreyer, co-owner, talks with a customer as she places items in a bag at the Shop Iowa City in Iowa City on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — A new Iowa City business is a collaboration of three “pickers and makers,” said Kate Dreyer.

Dreyer is co-owner of the Shop Iowa City, which opened on Aug. 26 in the former University Camera space.

The Shop sells vintage, upcycled and repurposed furniture and home décor, curated — and in many cases created — by Dreyer and her partners, Kay Boyer and Jessica Meyer.

“We met at different markets in the area and formed an instant friendship,” Dreyer said of her business partners. “We all wanted a bricks-and-mortar store because the markets have so many limitations, including the weather.”

The Iowa City shop is the second brick-and-mortar location for Dreyer and Boyer. In 2014, they and two other women opened a storefront in Kalona, also called the Shop, to sell vintage and repurposed home décor.

“We slowly grew, and the picking market was really hot,” Dreyer recalled.

The Iowa City store came about when Dreyer and Meyer, who runs the semiannual Good Maker’s Market in Tipton, were approached by representatives from the Iowa City Downtown District about opening a pop-up shop there.

While the women liked the idea of having a presence in Iowa City, they didn’t like the proposed second-floor space.

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“We decided that if we did it, we wanted to be in an ideal location that fit our design aesthetic,” Dreyer said.

Dreyer and Meyer joined with Boyer, one of Dreyer’s partners from Kalona, to find that “ideal” space. (The other partner, Karen Brandt, will remain in Kalona only, and another partner since has left the business.)

In June, the women identified the Dubuque Street location that had housed University Camera for more than 40 years before that business closed in April.

“When you walked in, you had to have an imagination,” Dreyer said. “The space hadn’t been touched in 40 years. But by nature as designers, we had a vision.”

Doing all the work themselves, except for the electrical and plumbing, Dreyer, Boyer and Meyer exposed and restored the original hardwood floors and patterned tin ceiling, built walls and updated the storefront.

“We wanted a crisp, clean, open feel like a gallery,” Dreyer said.

Reflecting the difference in clientele between a college town and a touristy destination such as Kalona, the Shop Iowa City has more of a bohemian chic vibe than its sister store, which features more traditional farmhouse décor.

Logistically, the three women will alternate the days they work at the Iowa City store and augment staffing with three part-time employees. Dreyer and Boyer also will continue to spend time at the Kalona store.

The rest of the time, Dreyer said, they will be out visiting auctions and estate sales and making their finds into new creations.

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The Shop Iowa City will hold its grand opening this Friday with refreshments, live music and giveaways from 2 to 6 p.m.

l Know a business in operation for less than a year that could make for an interesting “Ground Floor?” Contact michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com

At a Glance

l Co-owners: Kay Boyer, Kate Dreyer and Jessica Meyer

l Business: The Shop Iowa City

l Address: 4 S. Dubuque Street, Iowa City

l Phone: (319) 224-0885

l Email: theshopiowa@gmail.com

l Facebook: facebook.com/theshopiowacity

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.