There's a new home goods shop coming to Downer Avenue soon and it will be the first retail foray for a Milwaukee native who is returning home.
“I recently joined the Great Resignation and relocated back to Wisconsin from Washington, DC,” says Bridget Maniaci, who will open Goodland Home & Goods, LLC, in a 1,191-square-foot space at 2565 N. Downer Ave., later this summer.
The shop – adjacent to this string of retail spaces – formerly housed Time to Kiln paint your own pottery workshop and is located between Boswell Books and Optix on Downer.
“We’ll be selling cheerful, colorful homegoods along with artwork and some dry goods,” says Maniaci. “Everything needed for entertaining, whether you’re a UWM student with your first apartment or the owner of a home on Lake Drive.
“Think block print tablecloths and linens, glassware, Turkish towels, candles, etc., along with stationery and notebooks for a grown-up aesthetic. For dry goods, I’m looking to packaged food that’s made small batch by entrepreneurs, located in Wisconsin if possible.”
Maniaci will also carry artwork because, she says, “I feel like everyone should have original art in their homes.
“I’m working on curating offerings from artists that are original pieces of art, but are likely not one-off pieces. (I) will offer some paintings, but also plan to offer a variety of screen prints, other forms of art and photo prints.”
Maniaci says a store in Washington, DC called Salt & Sundry was the inspiration for Goodland Home & Goods.
“I realized that the cheerful, sunny, accessible home goods they sold – a mix of local and global goods – was not something I saw readily available in Milwaukee,” she says. “I was struck that with all of the development and new residential that’s come in Downtown and on the East Side of Milwaukee there’s not so much as a Target located Downtown, and every retail hub is a 15-20-minute drive.
“I remember being a freshman at UWM and having to rely on what was within walking distance or take the bus to buy groceries. I hope that this store helps to start fill in the gap of retail goods available locally.”
Opening the shop is something of a homecoming for Maniaci, whose grandparents ran Maniaci’s Cafe Siciliano on the North Shore for a quarter-century.
“Different generations of my family, up to the present day, have lived, worked or owned businesses on the East Side of Milwaukee going back more than 100 years,” she says. “I hope to channel their spirit of hospitality and joy around the dinner table for a new generation.”
Downer Avenue especially, she says, seemed like a good fit for the new shop.
“This is my first store, and scouting real estate and commercial retail corridors, Downer has survived the pandemic in good shape,” Maniaci says. “It also has fantastic long-term anchor retail establishments and a vibrant weekend brunch crowd that are helpful to a small business like mine.”
Maniaci notes that a major factor in her return was the availability of a $10,000 Main Street Bounceback grant from the state.
Maniaci served on the Madison City Council and I asked if she was considering a run for office. The East Side aldermanic seat is currently vacant, after all.
“Municipal government and policy is my happy place when it comes to politics, but politics can consume your life,” she says. “After 20 years, I was looking to make a change and pursue something more joyful day to day. I’m a big city nerd, and I’m so excited for the new generation of leadership that’s taking the reins at the city and county level in Milwaukee.
“We need to work to break down the silos of the I-94 corridor and build relationships between Madison and Milwaukee, especially now as Madison in 2018 has surpassed Milwaukee in property tax base value at both the city and county level. Each city can learn from the other, and I’m amazed when I speak to folks in both places that they haven’t gotten out to explore the other city beyond the highlights any tourist would visit.”
Maniaci also notes that her long-time friend Jonathan Brostoff is running for that seat.
“I’m so excited that he’s running to serve as alderperson for the East Side,” Maniaci says. “I look forward to the dedication and enthusiasm he’ll bring serving as alderperson.
“At some point I may look to get involved in volunteering or serving at the local level, but that’s something for another day. Right now, it feels so good to be home, and getting to enjoy and explore the neighborhoods, artists and makers of Milwaukee that are more than overdue for a spotlight.”
Maniaci will have a tent at the Downer Bike Classic on Saturday, June 25 so she can introduce herself and the shop to the neighborhood.
“We have a curated pop-up collection we’re selling I’m very excited about,” she says.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.