Hometown Pride in Walker’s Point
Off the Cuff with Hometown Established’s Michael Reese
Hometown Established began in 2014 as a general store run by husband and wife Michael Reese and Laurie Viduski. The couple wanted to help bring local artists and makers with a focus on utilitarian home goods to a retail location.
What drew you in to selling art and home goods?
My wife and I are both makers. Laurie does a lot of sewn items and jewelry, and I do woodworking.
So you carry both things that you make and pieces from others?
That’s right. We have roughly 100 different artists and makers that we carry.
What are you looking for when choosing what to put in the store?
We’re looking for something new and unique. There are a couple stores in the area that have been established for a while, and they kind of cater toward a certain area. I guess we look for things that are a bit more utilitarian. We try to stay away from jewelry and gifts, although people do look for that kind of stuff too. We try to offset the things that we carry too. We carry things like herbal teas from a local tea maker, Wisconsin-made honey, locally made laundry detergent and locally made jam, apple cider and vinegar. We’re still kind of like a general store, and even though we dropped that from our name after our first year, we still maintain that sort of inventory.
Describe the experience you want your customers to have when they visit your store.
We want them to walk away with a good representation of Milwaukee. I hope that they can find out a little more about who we are as a city through the items we carry. We want them to get a taste of the vibrant arts scene in Walker’s Point. We also want to help other artists gain more exposure on a daily basis, because it’s so hard for them to get their work out there. We want to try to build the community up and [help] people to identify with Milwaukee as a whole through these makers.
What sets Milwaukee artists and makers apart from those in other cities?
I think that we’re generally more humble. We’re more from a working-class background. I’ve been in Milwaukee all my life, so I speak from that. I think that we’re definitely proud of not only the city of Milwaukee, but also the state of Wisconsin. I think that there are a lot of statewide things that people draw from and align themselves with.
The work that we make here is just a little different. We’re not on the same wavelength as Chicago or New York, obviously. There are people out there who look for work like that, and can afford it, but I think our work is more accessible. I think that the makers are very prideful about what they make and they’re willing to talk with you at length about what they’re doing, and I think that people enjoy that. That’s a large reason why people buy local. They want to relate to what they’re using on a daily basis and what they’re decorating their house with.
Hometown Established is located at 321 W. National Ave. Reese and Viduski can be reached at 414-416-0425.