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Davenport’s original skyscraper is rising again as The Current Iowa hotel.
In the former Putnam Building at Second and Main streets, Amrit and Amy Gill’s Restoration St. Louis has renovated a tired downtown office building into a modern luxury hotel that champions the building’s past and will be a showplace for the Midwest art scene.
Bix Beiderbecke Gets a Museum in America’s (Other) Birthplace of Jazz: Iowa
By many jazz experts’ accounts, the genre had two grandfathers, separated by a little less than a thousand miles along the Mississippi River: Louis Armstrong, in New Orleans, and Leon Bismarck “Bix” Beiderbecke in Davenport, Iowa. They both played the cornet, both established styles unlike any of their contemporaries and both left an indelible mark on American music history.
New luxuray Davenport hotel shoes off art, amenities
DAVENPORT — The sleek, stylish Current Iowa hotel, 215 Main St., is as much a sprawling modern-art gallery as it is the area’s newest travel and culinary destination.
The $35-million yearlong transformation of the 1912 Putnam Building (designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham) — featuring the area’s first rooftop bar and restaurant overlooking the Mississippi — was done by the owners of Hotel Blackhawk, 200 E. 3rd St., Davenport. The 1915 Blackhawk reopened in late 2010 after a $46-million renovation and addition by Restoration St. Louis (RSL), and the nine-story Current Iowa opened Wednesday.
The Downtown Davenport Partnership is a huge fan of incorporating the newest and best forms of salesmanship at the annual Street Fest. For years, Street Fest has hosted traveling vendors who spend their summers jumping from festival to festival, and most recently, we made the push to bring in the latest trend, food trucks. But now there is a new kid on the block, Thirteen West Trolley. The nine-ton mobile gift shop is changing the vendor sales game in the Quad Cities, so we made sure it was parked on 2nd St for the biggest party of the year!
We sat down with Haley Bunting, the owner of Thirteen West Trolley, to chat about her business model, coming home to the QC, and what it’s like driving a giant store on wheels.
First off, why a trolley? I was living in Denver and they were using old UPS trucks as their boutiques. I loved the concept that you could travel to people; you could travel to big street fests, but have it put away on your own time. When I was in them I felt very claustrophobic though, and the light made it hard to see the products, because most of them didn’t have lighting or electricity. When I was on vacation in Charleston, on a trolley, I was kind of like “Wow! It is super bright in here. You can see out the windows.” That’s where the idea came from. It is so neat if you were able to go these big events and still be able to see outside and not feel trapped in this tiny area.
How did you decide on your product? I have always just loved little gift shops. I have a very modern bohemian and very eclectic style, so I wanted a hodgepodge of different things. There was no way to do that without doing a little bit of everything. I did decide on baby, a little bit of clothing, stationery and papers, jewelry, women’s gift, and a little bit of home goods, just because there are such fun products available. Those groups make the best gifts when you’re looking for house warming gifts or bridal gifts or birthday gifts. It’s also easier to find small makers who produce those types of items. I love the idea of having different sections. You can make a full gift box of just bath items or a full box of just baby items and it makes gift giving super easy when it can all be done in one spot.
What companies do you go through to order your product? After college it was my dream to have a gift shop. I didn’t think I would be 28 and have a gift shop though; I thought I was going to be 45-50 with a gift shop. After college, when I would go to street fests, or flea markets or what not, I’d grab the business cards from makers that I loved. Whether it be from jewelry or stationery or flour sack towels or baby clothes, I’d grab their business card. So when this idea exploded in my head, I had 200 business cards that I had saved in an old cigar box and I started going through them, sending them emails, “Do you still make this product? I contacted all of those people and only 25% of them were still in business. Some had blown up and gotten too big to respond, so I had to go through their websites. I also use a lot of Etsy wholesale. I love the backside of it because you get to see so much that’s not on the front, and you get to talk to those makers directly. You can be like “Is there another color available? Or a different scent? Or a different fabric?” They’ll actually work on it for you. For example I saw a follower on Instagram who made pillows with the outline of Iowa on them and I shot her an email and asked “Do you still make these?” I already have them in, and I sent her that about week ago. It’s just easier to work with small makers. I am fascinated by peoples craft and wanted to give them the opportunity to sell their stuff. Small makers! I LOVE THEM!
Why did you come back to the QC? Denver has a really big market for fashion mobiles. There are only 2 or 3 gift mobiles, but there’s over 15 fashion trucks selling men’s wear and women’s wear. It would have been hard to compete with the market there. They do have a lot more opportunity to sell at large events in Denver and are very open to mobiles, but why not bring something fun back to the Quad Cities?! I had been gone from the Quad Cities for 10 years and I missed crucial time with my family. I was using vacation time from a job to come back for things like funeral and weddings. I’ve missed tons birthdays and just different celebrations. Yes the market was amazing for it Denver, but I needed the support and help from my family and friends. I wasn’t able to do this by myself. And knowing the QC didn’t have anything remotely close to this was a huge push!
What is it like being a small business owner? It is challenging. I didn’t know very many small business owners when I started this. I always thought that I wanted to be my own boss, I just didn’t think it would be this soon. When the trolley opportunity presented itself I was just like “I’m doing it!” As a small business owner you are the marketer, the web site builder, the buyer, you are the remodeler, you answer all the emails, it’s just endless the amount of hats you wear. You have to be extremely creative and a problem solver. But the reward for all of it, nothing beats it. It comes with immense challenges, and it’s really hard work, but especially in the QC, there is such a great community of small business owners. The amount of people, who have reached out to me, is unreal. There’s so many people doing what they love, but it’s because they are small and keeping it small. It’s more fun to support the small stuff. If we could encourage more people to find their own whole in the wall, or start that online shop, or start in a truck, imagine how cool the Quad Cities would be?!
The city of Davenport was so helpful through the Small Business Department, they hopped on board faster than I thought anyone ever would. They were super supportive and easy to work with.
How many festivals have you done? How many do you plan do to? I’ve been at nine, but right now I have six more planned. One of the events I did this past week, the organizers invited me and built their event around shopping with me. I’d love to do more events like that. I’m still getting my bearings of what events to be in, because there are still event fees to pay and regulations on commercial vendors. I have people asking me where I’m going to be, if my online shop is going to be up soon, if I’m available for party’s soon and I’m like “yes yes yes!” I want to be out at a ton of events.
What is driving the trolley like? LOOK OUT! At first I was super nervous, but the company I bought it from let me drive it around an empty parking lot and that made a huge difference! Honestly when you’re in it, you have to watch your right corner, but that is about it. It’s only a 2004 so it’s not super old. If you forget that there’s 30 ft attached to you, it’s not that bad. I didn’t have to get my CDL (commercial driver’s license) if you were taking passengers, or had air brakes, or over 26001lbs, you had to. The trolley weighs 18000lbs, I’m not taking passengers – unless you count the stuffed animals – and I don’t have air brakes. So sure enough, I didn’t need a license and I got in and drove it. I’m getting more used to it.
Stop in the giant Trolley for a unique shopping experience during Streetfest 2017! Follow Thirteen West Trolley on Facebook and Instagram for updates on where Haley and her goods are parked!
Can’t Miss Happenings of Bix7 weekend 2017
*in chronological order*
Kickoff to BIX Weekend Party!
Join the team at Coworkqc for an early bird Bix party! Tonight, from 5-8pm, stop in for a happy hour or full night of cocktails, apps, swag, music and more!
CINEMA AT THE FIGGE Vol 6 – Bronson
Ford Photography is hosting a film program focused on identity via cinema and exploring violence at the Figge Art Museum. Cocktail hour starts at 5pm, while a trio of short films begins at 6pm. The feature film of the evening – Bronson – will begin promptly at 7:15pm!
2017 Running Wild Sports and Fitness Expo
All runners, walkers, sprinters, volunteers, families, people in general are encouraged to stop into the RiverCenter over the weekend to check out all things health and fitness. The expo runs from 5-9pm tonight and 9am-9pm on Friday. This two day show will include running apparel, gear, nutritional products and injury prevention.
2017 Brady Street Sprints
Starting at 7pm, watch men and women compete in the quarter mile climb! Two men’s and women’s open races (29 and under and 39 and under for each), two Masters’ races (40 and over, men’s and women’s), High School relays (boys’ and girls’) and the Bix 7 Sponsors Race (Bix sponsors only) will take place starting at 7pm!
STREETFEST Presented by Cobham
Grab the family and head down to 2nd St. for the Quad Cities biggest homecoming party! Come prepared with your stretch-iest party pants for all the food your heart could desire and some seriously dance worthy tunes! Music starts at 11:30a.m. on Friday and 10a.m. on Saturday, just after the Bix7 race!
*RIBFEST AT STREETFEST
It’s safe to say we’ve taken over Arby’s current marketing slogan, we in fact do “Have the Meats.” Check out our meat lovers row on 2nd St between Ripley and Harrison St. and try out BBQ from 6 vendors, including last year’s RibFest triple crown winner, Smokin’ Butt BBQ! Don’t forget to vote for your favorite vendor for the people’s choice award!
Head to Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel Friday night, for tunes by Liza Anne and Chris Coleslaw! The Curls are opening the set at 7pm!
43rd Annual Bix7!
This year Bix will host the USA Track and Field 7 mile American national Championships. You and your friends and neighbors can run alongside the best American athletes including our own Bill Rodgers, Olympic Gold Medalist Joan Samuelson and Olympic Silver Medalist Meb Keflezighi. Join the mass of runners and walkers as you brave the hills and experience the thrills of Bix 7.
Freight House Farmers Market
Davenport’s weekly farmers market will still be in full swing Saturday and Sunday! You can expect your favorite kombucha makers and the freshest of locally sourced produce ready for the taking! At 10 a.m. the River Music Experience’s EK Winter Blues All-Stars will be taking stage!
Bixfest Community Event
Bring your whole family to the City Church Saturday morning at 7 a.m. for cold coffee and special Bix7 energy drinks. Live music will start at 11 a.m. and go on until 8 p.m.
Continue the party down 2nd St. at Barrel House! The drink specials start at 8 a.m.!
Celebrate Bix weekend with Me & Billy, starting at 10 a.m.! Throughout the day hear live music from We Two Fools, Doug Collins and the Receptionist and Rude Punch! Bask in the glory of air conditioning, cold beer and great food!
Bix: Raising the Roof – Music & Brews
Make a pit stop before heading down to Streetfest at Great River Brewery! Live music starts at 10:30 with The Velies and continues until 4 p.m. with Winterland and Ty Webb & the Swingers!
Daytrotter is hosting the sassy punk group, The Coathangers, Saturday night. The show starts at 8 p.m with opening acts Residuels and Archeress!
We’re sure your body will need a little TLC after this weekend! Don’t forget that the Freight House Farmer’s Market is still open on Sunday!
Sooth those aching muscles with some yoga…and a little hair of the dog! Front Street Brewery Taproom is prepped for all you beer drinking/yoga loving people! The $10 class starts at noon, and don’t forget to bring your own mat!
Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel is supplying your Sunday night jams! Grab a drink and relax with Dagmar, Subatlantic, and Travis Linville starting at 7pm!
Mid-century store finds niche in Davenport
Mid-century and Danish modern furniture may be a niche market, but Joe and Michelle Stroehle believe they have nailed it with their River Bend Retro store in Davenport.
Downtown Celebrates with Fireworks and Shredding Guitars
It’s time to celebrate Independence Day! We all know the night before the 4th is the ideal day to really celebrate, and downtown has the perfect parties for you!
Red White and Boom
This annual July 3rd event takes place in both LeClaire Park and Modern Woodmen Park. Bring the Kids down and grab prime seating for the fireworks being shot from a barge on the river. The evening will include performances by Vander Veer and the 34th Army Scrap Metal Band!
A Giant Dog w/ the Zealots
For those without little ones attached to their hips, nothing screams happy birthday America like some good old fashioned rock’n’roll. Get your pre-party on at Daytrotter then head down to the river for the fireworks!
An Evening with Leftover Salmon
If you’re looking to pregame your celebrated day off and need some jams in your life, head to the Redstone Room. Starting at 7:30 Leftover Salmon will be giving you their undivided attention and tasty tunes.
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Throughout the weekend ten bands will take over LeClaire Park! This is the perfect way to get in touch with American roots and get your holiday celebration started! Friday the gates open at 4 and Saturday at noon! Get down to the riverfront and celebrate!
In Davenport tour, Gov. Reynolds shown the impact of historic preservation tax credits
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds toured two buildings Thursday that are a key part of downtown Davenport’s history and future. The tour came as Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce and community leaders promoted the need to retain the state’s historical preservation tax credit program.
Headliner Ben Folds sets tone for new fest Alternating Currents
Following last month’s announcement that River Roots Live will not return for its 13th year this August, the Downtown Davenport Partnership has fielded questions about the outdoor festival’s replacement, Alternating Currents.
“Everyone knew about River Roots Live,” Kyle Carter, executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership, said. “It’s fine to mourn a fest we all loved, but we hope people will have an open mind to this new model and doubts will go away.”
One step in quenching doubts? Tapping Ben Folds as the headliner of Alternating Currents.