For 45 years, a small storefront on South Kinnickinnic Avenue, just south of East Oklahoma Avenue, in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood operated as tailor shop.
Its owner, Hans Billerbeck, closed the shop in late May and the building, at 3118 S. Kinnickinnick Ave., was sold to Chicago couple Tanya Tucci and John Mitola, who have since transformed its exterior.
Where Billerbeck’s 1960s-era tailor sign long hung is a vibrantly hand-painted sign of what appears to be a frog drinking a beer.
It is in fact, a toad holding a potion, Tucci said.
The store will eventually be the home of Bay View Apothecary, which Tucci operated in Chicago
, but is moving to Milwaukee.
She and Mitola are also relocating to the city. Her husband’s company is based in Minneapolis but has offices in Chicago and Brookfield, so he can work in any of the cities, Tucci said. They want to be in Milwaukee.
Tucci will offer painting and candle-making classes and will also sell essential oils, handmaid soaps, crystals, tarot cards and several other things, Tucci said.
“To sum it up, it will be a place to get your good vibes on,” Tucci said. "Essential oils are sometimes intimidating, so I want to offer a place that is laid back. People can come in, have a cup of tea and just ask questions."
Tucci is a licensed therapist for oncology massage who works two days a week at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She said watching how chemotherapy, radiation and medication affect a patient's skin prompted her to begin making chemical-free soap.
She makes about 25 different varieties, including chamomile, tea tree, lavender flowers and lemongrass.
Tucci was hoping to open the store by fall, but said she is waiting for all of the city approvals and permits.
“I got the cart before the horse by painting the building,” she said.
As for the colorful building, the design and painting was done by Bay View artist Sarah Linkus of Filthy Freehand
, who has also done work for Fuel Café, Bel Air Cantina and Company Brewing.