ALTON — Peggy Stillwell, owner of Wild Hare Emporium, wanted to help her hometown thrive.
So she started Wild Hare Emporium, 2 W. Broadway, Alton’s newest antique shop. Stillwell says the shop’s name is a play on words.
“You know when you have a crazy idea, and people say you have a wild hair? It was like that with me,” she said. “Plus, if anyone knows me, they know I have crazy, wild hair.”
Opening the shop this past November, Stillwell had a vision for something a little different.
Wild Hare has many items to choose from, including vintage and collectible items and antiques for every taste. Future plans include an inventory of repurposed furniture (“Taking a chair and turning it into a planter, turning a door into decoration, things like that,” she said.)
For something a little different, Stillwell will paint furniture bright colors, a standout from older items. A family affair, her daughters-in-law are “crafty,” making wreaths and other home décor and household items. Her son, Blake Ely, drew the logo for the business.
“I have five children and three are married,” Stillwell said. “It’s nice to get some input from the younger generation, and I will use those ideas as well. It’s fun to ask them what will work.”
A grandmother of seven, Stillwell said she hopes children will enjoy coming to the shop and spending time there, as she considers the store a destination for all ages. Among the inventory is a child’s table and chair set, hand-painted and dating back to 1918.
“It’s very cool, and I think would look really cute in a kids’ room,” she said.
She also has a big wooden box at home that she plans to paint and turn into a toy box to match the child’s table and chairs.
“I also am looking at a ceramic nativity scene,” she said.
Wild Hare also includes inventory from the Victorian Trading Co.
For some, the location may be a bit familiar. Wild Hare Emporium is located in Riverview Suites (also owned by Stillwell and her husband, Ray). It is the previous location of Alton Belle Credit Union, which vacated the space more than a year ago. Since that time, Stillwell said she had been looking for a new tenant.
“The real estate wasn’t moving, and I wanted to make sure the space was rented out to someone who would fit in with the rest of the downtown retailers,” she said. “I decided to just open a shop myself. It’s something that I’ve always been interested in. We live in an older home, so antiques and history is something that I really enjoy.”
Although the retail business is new to Stillwell, the business aspect of it is not.
“I’ve done all the business part of it before,” she said.
“I want to fit in with all of the rest of the antique dealers and stores along Broadway, and if I don’t have something a shopper is looking for, then I can send them up the street to a neighbor who does.”
Wild Hare Emporium is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon until 4 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information, call (618) 465-3735 or visit the Facebook page at Wild Hare Emporium.