By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published May 07, 2008 at 5:15 AM

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 grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.

As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.

She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that. 

Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.

Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.

In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!

When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.