Join us every Saturday as we feature a store in the Lake Geneva area! Get the scoop behind the unique shops throughout Walworth County, and find out what makes them stand above the rest.
This week, we interviewed Melissa from Geneva Gifts in downtown Lake Geneva. This adorable store is one of the oldest stores in downtown Lake Geneva – and has been family-owned for the past 40 years! They have a little bit of everything in this shop – from souvenirs to Minnetonka moccasins to Jelly Belly beans to homemade fudge!
Personal WCVB staff story: We once had a visitor who really really wanted a cheese head. We walked up & down the streets of downtown Lake Geneva trying to find a store that would have one. Wouldn’t you know – Geneva Gifts had one! So, they really do have something for everyone 🙂
Stop in next time you’re downtown and say hi. Until then, read more about this great storefront below…
Q: How did your store get its start?
A: Geneva Gifts was established in the mid 1950’s by Harold C Hill. The location was previously Hill’s Cafe and was the Greyhound Bus Station for many years. Harold sold Geneva Gifts to my parent’s Don and Marilyn Ketchpaw in September of 1976. I was 13 at the time and almost 40 years later I can still be found working at the front counter of the store. In 1989, my husband Mike and I purchased the store from my parents and I have run it by myself ever since then.
Q: How did you choose the name for your store?
A: The name came with the business when my parents bought it. It’s a great name for the store as it represents the city name and what we sell.
Q: How long has Geneva Gifts been open?
A: This September will complete our 39th year. So 2016 will be our 40th Anniversary year. We will hopefully come up with some events and specials to celebrate our 40th year in business.
Q: What kind of items can we find in your store?
A: Everything! Seems like it anyway. We have Minnetonka Moccasins, Jelly Belly Beans, Home-Made Cream & Butter Fudge, Jewelry, Toys and Games, Lake Geneva and Wisconsin Souvenirs, a huge selection of Blackhawks, Packers, Bears, Cubs and White Sox merchandise, wine related gifts, and so much more!
Q: What is your most popular souvenir?
A: That would have to be a Pressed Penny or Elongated Penny from our Penny Press Machine. For 2 quarters and a penny you can
chose from 1 of 4 great designs and hand crank your own Pressed Penny. We sell thousands of them a year. We also have many of the more traditional souvenirs such as shot glasses, keychains, magnets, mugs, stickers, t-shirts, snow globes, etc. (Check out a video of Lake Geneva’s only penny press here!)
Q: What makes your store unique?
A: Our store stands out from most because of the variety of items we offer. Just about everyone who comes in here can find something that appeals to them. Many customers will spend over an hour in here and we are not really that big of a store. We have customers tell us all the time that Geneva Gifts is their favorite store in town. We have become known as the “FUN” store by adults and children alike.
Q: What sets you apart from the competition?
A: We strive to be the best at what we do. We make the “Best Fudge in Town!” We have the largest selection of Minnetonka Moccasins around. We aim to be the friendliest store with the nicest employees. We want our customers to come back again and again, and they do! Sometimes multiple times in one day or over their course of their visit.
Q: What is the “must have” item from your store?
A: Our fudge. It is the best fudge! We sell it by single squares and you can assort your flavors any way you wish. We have at least 36 flavors of fudge on the counter in the summer. We give free samples tastes because we are so proud of the way it tastes. And of course, if you Buy 1 pound we give you another 1/2 pound for FREE! What more could you ask for?
Q: YUM…So, what is the BEST flavor fudge you make?
A: That’s hard to answer because it changes all the time. However, plain Milk Chocolate and traditional Chocolate are the 2 most popular. Another favorite is “GOOP” which is chocolate fudge with peanut butter, caramel and chocolate chips. We made this recipe up ourselves and named it “GOOP” because the name just fit. Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Swirl, Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Walnut, Heath Crunch, Snickers and Chocolate Caramel Pecan round out the top 10. However, trending into the top 10 is my personal favorite “Salted Caramel,” and then there’s “Salted Nut Roll,” so we really have a top 12!!! We also make some unique flavors that aren’t often found in fudge stores, Rum Raisin, Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Dark Chocolate Caramel Crunch, and Funfetti Cake Batter to name a few. During the summer months we will add Key Lime Pie and Sherbet to our counter. Towards the end of August and through October you will find the “to die for” Pumpkin Pie Fudge! Seriously, it is soooo yummy! I also want to mention that we have plain maple and plain vanilla fudge. Many customers say they can never find those flavors without nuts in them.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a local business in Lake Geneva?
A: I’m most proud of our longevity here in Lake Geneva. Not too many businesses downtown have made it for the long haul. Our family has owned this store for almost 40 years and the business has been here for almost 50. I look around town and there aren’t too many places that can say that. I think that says a lot about our business. What we sell, how we treat our customers, how we’ve adapted to the wants and needs of the visitors and locals who shop with us.
Q: Any events/specials coming up?
A: National Fudge Day is June 16th. And we will be offering a “Double Double Special” What that means is we are doubling our normal special of Buy one pound of Fudge get a 1/2 pound free. Instead you will get a Full Pound FREE! Plus we have a punch card for each special purchased. We will be giving Double Punches on the punch card!
Q: Do you offer gift wrapping?
A: We don’t normally offer gift wrapping, but would do that for someone if that’s what they needed.
Q: Do you ship, and can people order from your store online?
A: We ship anywhere! And we have a website that you can order directly from us. We couldn’t possible put everything we sell on our website: www.genevagifts.com but we put the best of the best on there. You can find our fudge, the Jelly Belly line and our Minnetonka Moccasin line on our website. We will also gladly take your order over the phone – (262) 248-6756.
Q: Is there anything else our readers should know?
A: We run a really great Fudge Fund Raiser. We have beautiful sell sheets for the school or organization to use. It has 9 flavors of our fudge in 3 different sizes. The incentive to sell fudge is that it tastes great, it is made locally and your group will benefit by keeping 40% of the profits. The individual sellers will also be awarded with $10 Gift Certificates to Geneva Gifts for every $100 they sell. In addition to our Fudge Fund Raiser, we have done wedding and party favors and platters with our fudge. Very reasonable and delicious!
Q: Where (and when) can we find Geneva Gifts?
A: We are located in the heart of beautiful downtown Lake Geneva. Our address is 150 Broad St. Just a short walk up from the lakefront. We are open 363 days of the year. Summer hours are: 9:00 am-9:00 pm Sunday-Thursday, 9:00 am-10:00 pm Friday and Saturday. During the school year, our opening hours vary depending on the season and we close everyday by 5.
Thanks for reading…check back here every Saturday for a NEW “Shop Local Saturday” post, featuring businesses right here in the Lake Geneva area!