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PUBLICATION • SPRING 2019 • VOL. 22, NO. 5

A

Sauk Valley

Business Journal SMALL CHANGE

The folk s at Fra nk’s are tak ing on new role s, but the y’ll stil l kee p you r mot or run ning PAG E 3

AL SO IN TH IS IS SU E

Fam ily inv ite s folk s to mo sey on dow n to the ir new sal oon B&B offers R&R in a country setting Eve ryt hin g has a rep urp ose for ow ner of Dix on sho p

CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTED P.O. Box 498 Sterling, IL 61081

Permit No. 440 Sterling, IL 61081

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Sauk Valley Business Journal

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STORY INDEX

Welcome ...

to the spring 2019 issue of

SMALL CHANGE

Sauk Valley

Business Journal A

Spring 2019

The folks at Frank’s are taking on some new roles, but they’ll still keep your motors running. Pages 3

RISE AND DINE New B&B offers R&R with Victorian charm in a country setting. Pages 5

BEST OF THE WEST

PUBLICATION

Publisher: Don T. Bricker General Manager/Advertising Director: Jennifer Heintzelman

Family members are pardners in success at a Fulton watering hole, where the staff invites folks to saddle up and head on over to their saloon. Pages 7

Advertising Sales: Luke Eisenberg Articles and advertisements are the property of Sauk Valley Media of Dixon and Sterling-Rock Falls. No portion of Sauk Valley Business Journal may be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. Ad content is not the responsibility of Sauk Valley Media. Sauk Valley Media cannot and will not be held liable for the quality or performance of goods and services provided by advertisers listed in any portion of this publication.

NOT TOO SHABBY Everything has a repurpose for owner of Dixon shop. Pages 9

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Spring 2019

Sauk Valley Business Journal

Small change

The folks at Frank’s are taking on some new roles, but they’ll still keep your motors running

​Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com

Frank Thayer Sr., 69, owner/operator for 40 years of Frank’s Small Engine Repair, has sold the Sterling business to his right-hand man, Sterling firefighter Josh Willman, 47.

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Page 3 BY TODD MCKENNA tmckenna@saukvalley.com 815-625-3600, ext. 5576

STERLING – After more than 40 years as the owner of a small engine repair shop, Frank Thayer Sr. wants to go fishing. More accurately, he wants to go fishing more often. That’s why he’s selling his business, Frank’s Small Engine Repair, to his parttime employee and good friend Josh Willman. The only real change, though, they say, is the legal paperwork and who is listed as the owner. Thayer still will be at the shop most days doing what he loves to do, but now he will have more time to do another thing he loves, which is to get out on the water with rod in hand and fish on his mind. “My dad died young. He retired and went home and sat. I won’t do that,” Thayer said. “You’ve got to keep moving, and I love to fish.” One of his best catches ever may have been about 8 years ago. He threw out a line of sorts one day to a guy who often came into the shop getting parts for his own side business fixing lawn mowers, snowblowers and other small engine equipment. That guy was Willman, 47, who had a relationship with Thayer from his many visits to the shop. That day, he decided to make the relationship even stronger. FRANK’S continued on 44

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FRANK’S

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“He had a couple of employees leave and he was kind of in a spot, so he asked me if I wanted to help, and I’ve been here ever since,” Willman said. “It’s worked out real good. I got to get out of my garage, and we have a real good relationship.” That won’t change any even though Willman technically will be the boss and Thayer now will be just a regular employee. They both laughed at the role reversal and Thayer said he’s looking forward to just doing the repair work and that’s it. “I wanted to get away from all the paperwork. I’ll be 70, so I’m slowing down,” he said. “But we jump all over the place here helping each other out so we can keep things running smoothly. We get along just fine.” Willman described it as more than just fine. “His oldest son is a pharmacist, so he’s not picking up a wrench anytime soon. He’s treated me like a son and someone to pass on the business to,” Willman said. “It’s a real good relationship.” Willman still is a full-time fire-

fighter for the Sterling Fire Department and works at Frank’s on his off days. The two have talked about transferring ownership for the business, which specializes in repairs for lawn mowers, snowblowers and chainsaws among others, for about 2 years and didn’t know whether they wanted to make that public, but then the rumor mill kicked in so they decided to clear everything up. “Nothing will change. He’s not leaving. He just doesn’t want to worry about paying the bills anymore,” Willman said. “The nicest thing is him staying and being a part of the big decisions that are made. “Now he’ll still be able to work here, but also leave to go fishing.” That is, if he asks the boss really nicely. Thayer had to stop and think really hard to remember the last time he truly had a vacation. “I think it was back in the ‘80s when we had a drought,” he said with a laugh. But he loves what he does, and has ever since he started out in the business with his father-in-law back in the ’70s, he said. “I always wanted to find a job doing what I liked to do and try to stay in good health.” n

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Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com

Come visit Frank and Josh To celebrate the changing of the guard, and hopefully to welcome in some warm weather, Frank Thayer and Josh Willman will hold an open house from 8 a.m. to noon March 30 at Frank’s Small Engine Repair, 405 Ash Ave. in Sterling. There will be giveaways and customers can check out the latest in lawn mower models and lawn care equipment. The shop is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Call 815-622-9999 for more information.

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Sauk Valley Business Journal

Spring 2019

Rise and dine New B&B offers R&R with Victorian charm in a country setting

Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com

House in the Country owner/operator Christina Bystry has opened her home to guests looking to relax in a quiet, rural setting.

Page 5 BY GAVIN T. JENSEN For Sauk Valley Business Journal

STERLING – Tucked behind a row of trees between Milledgeville and Sterling is the Sauk Valley’s newest bed and breakfast. It’s not that hard to find. Just look for the house in the country. House in the Country Bed and Breakfast offers guests a peaceful getaway, overnight or for an extended stay, in a century-old Victorian home. Owner Christina Bystry is the house-proud owner of the 12-room home at 20213 Hickory Hills Road that features four bedrooms, two restrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room, library, and parlor room. Outside, guests can explore the two-anda-half-acre property, kick back and relax on the large back deck, or get cozy around one of three firepits – one of which is inside an old silo. Bystry, 54, said she didn’t originally plan to turn the house into a bed and breakfast. “When I bought the property a year ago, I thought I would turn the barn into a reception area for weddings,” she said. “But after showing a few friends and family the location, they thought I should do a bed and breakfast because of the space.” Once she decided to follow their advice, she went to work, having trees removed to open up the panoramic countryside views, putting in sidewalks for easier access, and expanding the deck. B&B continued on 64

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Spring 2019

B&B

CONTINUED FROM 5 t

House in the Country, at 20213 Hickory Hills Road, between Sterling and Milledgeville, features a comfy living room that leads into a dining area where guests can sit down to a meal at a rustic table.

Photos by Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com

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The exterior wasn’t the only place where the B&B got some TLC. A fresh coat of paint, period-appropriate decor, artwork and furniture, and major upgrades to the restrooms gave the home a comfortable balance of old-world charm and modern amenities. More info “It’s an eclectic collecHouse in the Country tion of comfort,” Bystry 20213 Hickory Hills said. Road, Sterling Bystry still wants to 815-757-6815 do more to the house, Room rates range including adding a lifebetween $95 and $135 a size checkerboard in the night. Check in between backyard, and refurbish3 p.m. and 6 p.m., check ing the barns for wedout by 11 a.m. ding receptions. Find House in the Another perk of staying Country on Facebook or at the bed and breakfast: contact Christina Bystry the baked goods and at houseinthecountry18@ meals Bystry serves up, gmail.com for more inforhelping make her house mation. really feel like home. It’s just one of the things that makes House in the Country a cozy place to unwind. That, and the pineapples. “I put them in every room, and some are hidden in plain sight, because it’s the international symbol of hospitality,” she said. n

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Sauk Valley Business Journal

Spring 2019

Best of the west

Family members are pardners in success at a Fulton watering hole, where the staff invites folks to saddle up and head on over to their saloon

Page 7 BY PHILLIP HARTMAN phartman@saukvalley.com 815-625-3600, ext. 5525 @phartman19

FULTON – A little piece of the Old West is as close as the south side of Fulton. King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall wears its cowboy swagger proudly. Customers enter through swinging doors inside the vestibule, steer horns hang overhead, cowboy-themed paintings decorate the wall, and “KP” is branded into the bar. The Old West decor sits comfortably alongside more modern touches: a neon Chicago Cubs sign, three big-screen TVs, and just past the pool tables there’s a dart board and video gambling machines. The Stoecker family opened the bar at 18675 13th St. in December 2015. “My dad, Paul Stoecker, owns it,” manager Kelly Stoecker, 48, said. “He’s always wanted a bar. He used to own Albany House when we were little.” With a staff of 10 and plenty of room, King Pins can provide a venue for a variety of events, big and small. Employee Becky Chadwick said the saloon can hold about 250 people. “We’ve had weddings, wedding receptions, retirement parties, and celebrations of life. Exelon’s had events here. We have movable walls for private parties,” she said. KING PINS continued on 84

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Spring 2019

More information King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall, 18675 13th St., Fulton, 815-208-7066 Bar hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. The kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Online: Find King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall on Facebook. Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com

King Pins Saloon and Dance Hall wears its cowboy swagger proudly, and the Old West decor sits comfortably alongside more modern touches: big-screen TVs, a dart board and video gambling machines.

KING PINS

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A stretch of open floor provides plenty of space for Tuesday-night line dancers to strut their stuff. Line dancing “is a big draw,” Stoecker said. “We have gambling. We have bands once in a while.” DJ Jared Wetzell from Sterling often comes to perform during line dancing nights. And what would a King be without a queen? The saloon has a Queen of Hearts draw-

ing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. For those who want to belly up to a table for some grub, King Pins offers its fair share of bar fare: appetizers and sandwiches with sides. It also offers specials. “A big hitter is hot beef on Friday and Italian beef on Wednesdays.” Stoecker said.“Our Monday and Tuesday specials change. We have homemade soups daily.” Food, drinks, fun, and some fancy footwork in a family bar – it’s all part of the Stoeckers’ goal to give people a place to mosey on down to and sit a spell. n

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Sauk Valley Business Journal

Spring 2019

Not too shabby Everything has a repurpose for owner of Dixon shop

Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com

The pieces may start out a little on the shabby side, but by the time they hit the sales floor at Jennifer Shaw’s shop, they end up pretty fabulous.

Page 9 BY GAVIN T. JENSEN For Sauk Valley Media

DIXON – Shabulous: It’s a combination of shabby and fabulous – smoothing out the rough edges on something and giving it new life. For Jennifer Shaw, it’s also the perfect combination of her passion for re-purposing and her drive to start a business. Shabulous Vintage Store, at 212 W. First St., features items from several area vendors ranging from candles to jewelry, and seasonal decorations to clothes, and just about everything is handmade. Her shop is located in the former home of Waterfront Gifts and Antiques, which opened an expanded shop across the street. “It all started out as a hobby,” Shaw said. As a mother of six, Shaw said she was torn between styling hair out of her garage and raising her children, but one day she came across an old dresser and thought to herself, “Do I throw it out or re-purpose it?” It needed a bit of work; it was pea green, missing a shelf and had a broken drawer. She decided to give it a second chance,and with a little patience, some tinkering here and there, and a fresh coat of cobalt blue paint, she was hooked. “I just had to post a picture of it to Facebook,” Shaw said. SHABBY continued on 104

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Spring 2019

SHABBY

CONTINUED FROM 9 t

Almost immediately, someone made an offer, and it was sold by the end of the day. About 5 years later, with no more room left in her garage and a little more free time, Shaw made the decision to start a business. “I asked my husband, Joshua, if this was a good idea and he told me More information to go for it,” Shabulous Vintage Shaw said. “So Store I did.” 212 W. First St., Dixon The shop Call 815-288-1960 or also does it find Shabulous Vintage part to supStore on Facebook port a local Hours: 10 a.m. to cause, the 5 p.m. Wednesday PADS homethrough Saturday, less shelter closed Sunday through in Dixon. A Tuesday portion of the sales of J-Hoshe’ah candles and wax melts sold at Shabulous will go to the shelter’s Home for the Holidays fundraiser. For those who want to get a taste of Shaw’s simply shabulous eye for decor, but can’t make it to Dixon, she has a booth set up on the second floor of Showplace Antiques, 307 First Ave., Sterling. n

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TOP: Clothes in the boutique portion of the store are lightly worn, “but can’t look like it” owner Jennifer Shaw said. BOTTOM: Jewelry old and new can be found at Shabulous Vintage Store.


Sauk Valley Business Journal

Spring 2019

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Page 11

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Spring 2019

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