Terry Stuhlmacher, co-owner of Winkie’s, says the best part of his job is seeing fathers who grew up shopping at the Whitefish Bay variety store bring in their children for a toy or treat.
"You’d be surprised how many dads come in here and say they shopped here as kids," says Stuhlmacher.
Stuhlmacher and his brother, Tom, spent a lot of time inside Winkie’s when they were kids and young adults.
"We grew up in this business. My dad was the general manager of Winkie’s, back when there were five shops," says Stulmacher. "My dad originally bought the store with my brother and I, and worked there until he retired in 1995."
Today, only the Silver Spring Drive location remains, but until the early ‘80s, there were four other Winkie’s: another in Whitefish Bay on the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Hampton Avenue and three on the North Side of Milwaukee.
Winkie’s features a well-selected array of gifts, cards, toys, stationery / office supplies, sewing supplies, housewares, candy and seasonal items.
"We’re very strong on seasonal items and this keeps up our traffic flowing. We hit every holiday, including the upcoming Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, even Back to School," says Stuhlmacher.
In the ‘60s, Winkie’s was one of the only variety stores to carry Hallmark cards. Today, it is a Gold Crown Hallmark shop, which allows it to carry select lines of upscale cards.
"Hallmark has always been a big part of our business, but we're a lot more than that, too," says Stuhlmacher.
Stuhlmacher says he and his brother strive to stay in an upscale niche, and by doing so, they don’t attempt to compete with Target or Wal-Mart.
"We look for merchandise that isn’t in the mass market," he says. "We stay unique, and that has been very successful for us."
Stuhlmacher says his toy department, which takes up most of the large lower level, is one of the feathers in the shop’s cap. He says the selection of Plamobil, K’NEX and Brio wooden toys blows away the offerings at box stores.
"We’re able to carry (most) of the line," he says. "Whereas you go to, say, Wal-Mart, and they might carry a few pieces (from the line) if you’re lucky."
Another claim to fame at Winkie’s is the large candy counter, which ranges from Jellybellies to imported chocolates.
"We still have the bulk candy, but we specialize now in candy from around the world. Like the store in general, our specialty candy department helps us to stay in our upscale niche," says Stuhlmacher.
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.