If you walk into Owl Imports, 7546 W. Greenfield Ave., be prepared for insane amounts of cuteness -- or corny-ness, depending on your taste.
The 58-year-old West Allis shop specializes in mostly imported figurines, music boxes, collector's plates, dolls, nutcrackers, clocks and beer steins.
Upon entering, two things immediately came to mind. The space is almost spookishly dust-free -- at least one Owl employee is a genius with the feather duster -- and even though there are thousands of items, every one has an identical price tag (varying prices, of course) with a brief description in the exact same handwriting.
Surprisingly, according to store manager Michael Cain, not one but multiple employees create the tags -- after learning the special Owl handwriting, of course. "The tags are written by many different people, but we try to make them all look the same," he says. "Practice, practice, practice!"
For those out of the collectibles loop, the prices might also seem a bit surprising. Hummel figurines, including one called "Cheeky Fellow" and another dubbed "Boy With Accordion," are between $104.99 and $144.99. A yodeling clown statue is priced at $194.99, a "Chubby Uncle Sam" nutcracker is $129.99, and many of the beer steins are well over $100.
But many of the pieces are less expensive, like snow globes ranging in theme from "The Wizard of Oz" to wildlife, as well as many other gift items in the shape of unicorns, clowns, wolves, gargoyles, dolphins and more.
The Owl also features an almost-overwhelming clock selection, with everything from Grandfathers to mantel models to tiny clock faces set in golf balls. And if the selection doesn't get you, the sound will -- there are so many simultaneous chimes and bongs that one could potentially lose it at the top of each hour. But the Owl employee behind the desk only shakes his head and smiles when asked if the clock chatter ever drives him cuckoo.
After almost 60 years of business, Owl Imports is still owned by the Naimon family, with Steve Naimon currently in charge. The family originally owned a liquor store, also called "Owl," on the north side of Milwaukee but decided to open a new venture in 1945 when they recognized the popularity of musical liquor bottles with their patrons.
"We've evolved into a really unique business," says Cain, who has managed the shop for 20 years. "There's no other place quite like this in the world."
Owl Imports is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Sundays during the Christmas season.
Note: You might want to leave your little ones at home -- blown-up photo copies of a "Dear Abby" column are taped up around the store with Abby's advice underlined: "If a child proceeds to abuse your merchandise, advice the parents ... and if damage is done, sock it to 'em!"
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.