VIROQUA — With a degree in metalsmithing, Stacie Anthony enjoys making jewelry, sculptures and drawings that are inspired by nature and the earth.
That’s one reason why she bought Gary’s Rock Shop in downtown Viroqua last year.
Anthony bought the business at 317 S. Main St. in June 2015 from Gary and Dian Krause, who had opened it in 1992. The Krauses still own Elegant Stone Products in Viroqua.
Anthony had worked part time at the rock shop for nine years before buying it.
“Gary was ready to retire and I was ready to step in,” Anthony said. “It was such a good fit with my jewelry and art. It’s all about connecting to nature and earth.”
The store sells many kinds of rocks and things made from rocks, as well as fossils, jewelry, beads and beading supplies, books, greeting cards, dream catchers and incense.
Besides her own jewelry and art, Anthony said, “We sell things made by a lot of local artists." Some of the artists put on demonstrations of their crafts at Gary’s Rock Shop, for the public to see.
“We have books that go along with earth sciences and gems,” including many children’s books such as “Journeys: An Ice Age Adventure,” Anthony said.
Tim Fox, who lives in Cazenovia, Wis., and authored that book, will give a reading from it and lead a fun program of activities from 9 to 10 a.m. Sept. 17 at Gary’s Rock Shop. “Journeys” is the story of two boys who travel 11,000 years into Wisconsin’s ice age past.
Since she took over the business a year ago, Anthony has expanded its offerings of workshops and other events.
“I want to expand into stone carving, jewelry making, silversmithing and geology” workshops, she said. She hopes to offer a silversmithing class this fall.
The rock shop is staffed by Anthony and by Christine Myhr, who has worked there for 20 years.
“This is the most fun anyone can have and still be working,” Anthony said of owning and working at the shop.
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There, she’s surrounded by rocks and things made from rocks.
Most of the shop’s rocks are from the United States, Brazil, Madagascar and Morocco. Most of the largest ones are purchased at an annual rock, gem and mineral show that Anthony attends in Tucson, Ariz.
“We have some very impressive display pieces in the shop right now,” Anthony said. “We have a large pair of amethyst cathedrals standing 5 to 6 feet high, a slice of a Brazilian agate that measures 3 feet across and many large spheres and crystals.”
Most of the rocks in the Viroqua store are between 2 million and 500 million years old.
The store has many carved items such as candleholders, chess sets, wind chimes, Himalayan salt lamps made from pieces of salt from the Himalayan Mountains and bookends. “We have a lot of bears and buffalo” carvings, Anthony said.
Small polished stones, as well as little onyx carvings that depict critters such as frogs, turtles, butterflies and flying pigs, are popular with children.
“A lot of hobbyists who come in like to cut and polish their own stones,” and buy supplies at the shop, Anthony said. The store sells supplies such as tumblers, grit and rock hammers.
Most customers come from Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.
The rock shop also is a destination for school and Girl and Boy Scout field trips.
Anthony, who grew up near Holmen, received a bachelor’s degree in metalsmithing from Mount Mary College (now Mount Mary University) in Milwaukee in 1998, and has been making and selling jewelry ever since.
“I always had a little of my work (for sale) at the shop,” she said, during the nine years she worked for the Krauses. “I work mainly in silver.” She also offers custom jewelry design and jewelry repair services.
Anthony sells her jewelry under the Winged Woman Art name. Besides selling it at Gary’s Rock Shop, she sells online and wholesales some of her creations to a handful of small shops on the nation’s east and west coasts. “They’re mostly little shops like this,” she said.