A unique notion

(First published in the March 28, 2019 issue of City Pages)

Notions Unique Gifts offers unusual items, maybe with a cup of tea on the side


Pam Stuhr, owner of Notions Unique Gifts on Grand Avenue

Pam Stuhr sees her new shop on Grand Avenue, near the Kent Street intersection, in Wausau as the new kid in town just wanting to get acquainted. The owner of Notions Unique Gifts at 2108 Grand Ave. says area residents should not feel any pressure to buy. “Stopping in to chat is fine, too.”

She acknowledges that it’s not easy describing her inventory. None of it is fresh from a factory. The only new items are individually created things like paintings, decorative woodworking, wooden canes and knitted and crocheted items like scarves. She contacted the local woodturning club and is now displaying the work of several members. She would like to do the same with pottery and sculpture.

Mainly though, Stuhr’s inventory draws from decades of collecting she has done over 15 years of living in Antigo and the last 15 years living in Wausau. She likes glassware, so there’s a variety of that, including sets of wine glasses. “I have a thing about punch bowls, too, I’ve discovered.” She found 10 of them when she started going through her own collections.

“The list goes on, so you just have to come and look,” she says. “I haven’t even gotten to the boxes in my attic.”

It’s clear that tea is big in her life. Anybody who stays more than a few minutes at the shop is likely to be offered a cup. “I have everything you would need for tea. My grandfather was from England, so we would have tea in the afternoons.”

Right now that mainly means tea sets, but she plans to add loose-leaf tea and will be sharing recipes for enthusiasts who like to make their own blends.

One table in the shop is stacked with sheet music, mostly from tunes popular years ago, including “war ditties” from the early 1940s and songs from Broadway musicals.

A nearby drawer, standing open, is brimming with Little Blue Books, most for $2 each. Made simply with what look like construction-paper covers, they were produced from the 1920s to the 1940s. A quick look turned up topics such as, “Why Wives Leave Home,” “A Book of College Humor,” and “Scotch Jokes.”

She has a 1926 Pontiac owner’s manual, complete with greasy fingerprints. Nearby is a gift-boxed set of stainless steel cheese knife and spreader with the imprint of Marathon Cheese Corporation.

Stuhr has never done anything like this before. She asks, “What’s that called where you have a lot of experience everywhere?”

She worked at the Humane Society of Marathon County when it was on Kent Street, then worked for Langlade County at Antigo’s animal shelter but after 20 years in the field the emotional toll became too much. She worked at the Eastbay distribution center in Wausau before starting her shop.

All along the way, she has collected and the urge to open her own store has grown. “Once you get so much, you need to get rid of some of it so you can get more,” she says.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Phone is 715-679-6160. She’s also on Facebook.