For nearly five decades in Wausau, the Talent Shop was the place to find gifts and home décor products handmade by people ages 50+. A nonprofit program that benefited both local retired artisans and shoppers alike, the store sold hand-carved wooden toys and furniture, greeting cards, baptism gowns, ceramics, sock monkeys, quilts and more.
Located for many years in a downtown Wausau storefront, the program in 2008 was folded into Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin’s Rib Mountain store, after Lutheran Social Services declined to continue supporting the program.
On Wednesday, Goodwill announced it will close The Talent Shop on Dec. 31.
In the announcement, Robert A. Pedersen, president and CEO of Goodwill NCW, said the decision to end the program was based on business considerations. “Many retailers are in a challenging environment today, and Goodwill has seen some of that, too,” Pedersen said. “We gave The Talent Shop the opportunity to reach budgetary goals, and invested in floor-space, overhead and salary, but ultimately, we came up short.
“We are so thankful for the work of our staff, our volunteers and our artisans in giving this program a chance to succeed. We showed our faith in their work by placing the program at the forefront of a beautiful new store in an attractive retail neighborhood. At the end of the day, however, we need to create more revenue in that space to support the more than two dozen human-services programs we offer across the state.”
Among the options to replace The Talent Shop at the Rib Mountain store is a Goodwill boutique-themed store. Talent Shop artisans have the choice to keep their merchandise — woodworking, quilts, clothing, painting and more — in the store at 1100 Morning Glory Lane until year’s end, or remove the merchandise.