New business features alpaca clothing, honey products
GENEVA – A new store, Alpaca to Apparel, at 426 S. Third St., Geneva, will not only feature clothing woven from alpacas, but honey products and mead – which is a drink made from fermented honey.
Owner Benjamin Kornowski said the family raises alpacas on their farm in Luxemburg, Wis., as well as honey and honey products from the bees it also raises.
The store recently received City Council approval for a liquor license to sell mead.
“Mead is the oldest form of alcohol in the world,” Kornowski said. “They found it in the ancient pyramids.”
[A recently shorn alpaca on the Wisconson farm where alpaca wool becomes the clothing sold at a new store, Alpaca to Apparel, a new store at 426 S. Third St., Geneva. The store also features honey and honey products from the bees also raised at the farm.]
The store’s mead is not made from the Kornowski’s honey, but comes from other companies, he said.
Some is imported, such as mead made in Denmark from a recipe dating back to the 1700s, he said.
The store’s mead is also imported from Austria, South Africa, Italy, Michigan and Wisconsin, Kornowski said.
[Benjamin Kornowski, owner of Alpaca to Apparel, a new store at 426 S. Third St., Geneva, shears an alpaca on the family's farm in Luxemburg, Wis. The wool is woven into clothing sold at the store.]
The family has a store on its farm as well as in Fish Creek, Wis.
The family decided on a Chicagoland location in Geneva after friends David and Mary Sterner of St. Charles encouraged them to consider it.
“They’ve got a cute little store up there in Door County and we would often have their alpacas on the property outside,” David Sterner said. “Now that’s an animal you don’t see every day so you’ve got to go check them out. They have fantastic products made from the alpaca wool.”
[Some of the herd of alpacas at a Wisconsin farm. Owner Benjamin Kornowski opened a new store Alpaca to Apparel, 426 S. Third St., Geneva, which features clothing made from the alpacas on his farm.]
Even though the Sterners have lived in St. Charles for 20 years, David Sterner said they promoted Geneva to Kornowski as the right place to situate a Chicagoland store.
“Geneva has got some kind of magical thing going,” David Sterner said. “In a time of retail in transition, Geneva seems to have figured out the right mix with retail. They don’t have the common, everyday store. They’ve got very unique, high-touch type stores. They were looking at Mackinac Island and I said, ‘You have to look at Geneva.’”
David Sterner said the Kornowski’s Fish Creek store is not a four-season building and they pack up in mid October.
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[Socks made from alpaca wool in stock at a new store, Alpaca to Apparel, 426 S. Third St., Geneva. Owner Benjamin Kornowski raises the alpacas on a farm in Wisconsin and shears the wool himself for the apparel.]
“The store is closed when they could be doing so well if they were open at that time of year,” David Sterner said. “Geneva from October through Christmas …. it’s super busy. Geneva is like a Norman Rockwell painting.”
Kornowski said he also considered Traverse City in Michigan as well as Galena in Illinois – until he saw Geneva.
“When I came to Geneva, it was always so busy and it was a nice, charming town,” Kornowski said. “The people are nice.”
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[Reversible shawls made from alpaca wool at a new store Alpaca to Apparel, 426 S. Third St., Geneva. Owner Benjamin Kornowski raises the alpacas on a farm in Wisconsin and shears the wool himself for the apparel.]
Alpaca to Apparel is occupying the retail space formerly held by the Copper Fox Unique Boutique, which closed in November.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
More information is available by calling the store at 331-248-0351.