Open for less than six months, the Oconto store is expanding twice

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OCONTO — Just months after opening a women’s clothing store in Oconto, Magan Holz was already considering a second location in Oconto Falls.

Soon, however, she will have three Olive + Birch stores.

The Lakewood location – which is initially only open on Saturdays and Sundays – is located between Sweet Memories Candy Shoppe and Subway in the old Trillium Boutique building at 15351 State 32. A soft opening is planned for Memorial weekend Day, with a grand opening in June.

The second location in Oconto Falls, at a location yet to be announced, is scheduled to open this summer.

“I’m really proud to be part of Oconto, and I can’t wait to see what Oconto Falls and Lakewood have to offer and what I can offer them,” Holz said. “The new boutiques will carry the same style of clothing as Oconto, but the three locations will have a different collection.”

Holz is the go-to fashion consultant to her group of friends. An offhand remark from one — “Why not open a shop?” — planted the seed that became Olive + Birch.

She first started with a website, olivebirchboutique.com, which went live last November, hoping it would lead to an outlet.

It happened much sooner than she expected. Samantha Boucher of Oconto County Economic Development Corp. helped her secure a $10,000 grant from the Main Street BounceBack program, opening the Oconto store on January 15

Holz took over the space that housed the Be-You-Tiful store, which had been open for about 3½ years when it closed after the pandemic began. It only reopened for special events and weekends during the holiday season.

Customer response has been favorable to the Oconto store, located across from the Associated Bank at 1102 Main St.

“It was wonderful,” Holz said. “I get a lot of people coming in and saying they like the style. They are happy to have a local place to shop.

In April, Holz was close to closing a deal that would allow her to open a second store in Oconto Falls. But it failed.

In a later conversation, Boucher asked Holz if she would consider Lakewood instead.

“I talked it over with my girlfriend, Jen (Clements), and we decided to go for it,” Holz said.

To help fund the expansion, Holz obtained a $10,000 microloan through OCEDC, which was used to purchase inventory and make a down payment on the Lakewood building.

“The microloan will help me get off to a good start there because I could buy the Lakewood property without taking money out of the current store,” she said.

But then Holz had another major decision to make — whether or not to keep her separate full-time job.

Since moving to Oconto last August to be closer to Clements and her son’s father, Holz has continued to travel weekly to southern Wisconsin, where she was employed in sales, marketing and administration. system in a manufacturing company.

The Janesville native is in the office Monday and Tuesday of each week, while working remotely Wednesday through Friday.

“With the purchase and the two locations (in Oconto and Lakewood) I decided it was time to take the plunge and resign from my full-time job so I could really focus on the shops,” she explained.

Then things took another turn.

Just a day after meeting with his boss, Holz learned that the original site of the Oconto Falls store was available again.

“Jen and I decided ‘let’s go big’ and we’re taking that slot as well,” she said. “Oconto Falls is set to open in July, and I can’t wait!”

Olive + Birch Boutique offers casual and dressy clothing for women in sizes small to 2X, with a small selection of styles up to 4X. Selections include tops, pants, and dresses, as well as jewelry, hats, and other accessories. The shop is open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The store also carries Inspire, the activewear line created by Clements, owner of Inspire Fitness, a 24-hour gym in Oconto.

OCEDC has provided 21 low-interest micro-enterprise loans since the end of 2016, including four last year and four so far this year. They are available to small business owners who want to expand their business, buy equipment, or need extra working capital for other expenses.

To qualify, companies must have annual sales of less than $1 million and less than 25 employees. Other factors may also be taken into account. Microloans are available at an interest rate as low as 3% for up to five years. Loans range from $1,000 to $10,000.

To date, 40 Oconto County businesses have received Bounceback grants, and 14 more are in the works but not yet approved, Boucher said. The application deadline for Bounceback Grants, which can be used to help new and existing businesses open a new location or expand their operations, was recently extended to December 31.

To apply for a micro-business loan or Main Street Bounceback grant, visit ocontocounty.org or contact the OCEDC office at 1113 Main St., Oconto; call 920-834-6969 or email [email protected]

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Contact Kent Tempus at (920) 431-8226 or [email protected].

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