ONALASKA — A year after it closed, new operators Cassandra and Justin Birdd say they’ve received a warm welcome from customers at their Treehouse Gift and Home store in Onalaska.

The Birds, who live in West Salem, are leasing the building where Treehouse Gift and Home reopened Nov. 15. The previous operators had closed the gift and home decor store last December.

“Customers have been coming in with all smiles,” Cassandra said. “They’re so thankful to have this place back.

Erik Daily, La Crosse Tribune
The Treehouse in Onalaska sells gifts, home decor and many other items.

“We felt there was a real need to bring it back,” she said of the store. “The community really loved it. We’ve gotten such a warm welcome from people.”

Although most of its customers live in the greater La Crosse area, the store also has drawn former area residents and others who live as far away as Des Moines, Iowa.

Cassandra’s father, Duane Foust, helped the couple reopen the store by doing some remodeling and helping put fixtures and merchandise in place.

The store has about 15 employees, including manager Cathi Stenger and assistant manager Kelli Redfearn.

Cassandra held various management positions at the Helzberg Diamonds store in Valley View Mall for 11 years, until she left that retailer in October to operate Treehouse Gift and Home. “I’d prayed about it,” she said of her decision. “The Lord pointed me in this direction.”

Cassandra, a native of Benton, Wis., received bachelor’s degrees in business administration and communications technologies in 2004 from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

She and Justin, who is a Sparta native, also own three other businesses. They are Justin Birdd Construction LLC, which builds apartment buildings and houses; Birdd Properties Inc., which offers apartment rental and property management services; and Birdd Land Investments LLC, a residential subdivision development firm.

After deciding to take over Treehouse Gift and Home, the Birdds decided to keep the store’s name.

In choosing merchandise for the store, the Birdds looked for unique gift and home decor items and for products made by local people.

“We want to support local artists and businesses,” Justin said, as he and Cassandra took a reporter through the store’s local artist gallery section, which features paintings, prints, photos and sketches. Local Love symbols there and throughout the store mark local merchandise.

The Birdds have created several special sections within the store, such as Christian, babies, children, wedding and anniversary, special occasion, furniture, wall decor, man cave, sports and patriotic, kitchen items and a luminary section that features salt lamps, decorative lamps, luminaries and artificial and real candles.

Not everything is locally made. For example, one of the most popular product lines in the store’s luminary section is Lampe Berger Paris lamps and fragrances from France.

The Christian section features merchandise such as greeting cards, calendars, gifts, books, wall art, signs and DVDs.

The store’s health and beauty aids section has such things as locally made soaps, salves, bath salts and bath bombs.

The Bears Den just inside the store’s entrance has many bear, moose and fishing figurines. “It has kind of a woodsy, cabin feel to it,” Cassandra said of the den.

Treehouse Gift and Home also has many unique food items, including local fare such as coffee roasted by Cabin Coffee in La Crosse, Coon Valley Candy Co. fudge, Lynns’s Candies candy, The Great American Pancake Co. mixes and Storandt Farms salsas and jams.

The Birdds have introduced some new services at the store, such as ready-made gift baskets for special occasions, custom framing, custom engraving and a gift-wrapping station. There’s also a Prayer Corner, where customers are welcome to write and post a short prayer.