BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The vacant store fronts in Fort Madison are continuing to fill up.
The Old Lee County Bank building now has another new tenant on the main floor on the northwest corner of 8th and Avenue G, and it’s a veritable flea market.
Denise Anderson has opened the shop Odd Marvel at 801 Avenue G with her mother Roxanne Cornelius and Roxanne’s husband Jim Cornelius.
She said it’s been a pleasant surprise to see all the other activity starting up in downtown.
“I had no idea that everyone was going to be opening shops at the same time, but that’s awesome. I’ve been wanting to open my own shop for a long time and Jim said he was looking to open a business and possibly retire at some point,” she said.
“I said it would be silly to open up two locations.”
Previously, Anderson, a wife and mother of four, said her business was operated off Facebook where she was selling older pieces of furniture and decor, games, candles, books and other items.
She said she wanted to get away from vendor events where she has to handle the logistics and fees associated with that type. The physical space in downtown was perfect for her, because she said she’s always loved the old bank.
“I like having a physical presence. I’ve done vendor events in the past and I really love doing that but it is a lot of work moving your stuff in and out, finding some place to store everything, and then paying for those spaces,” she said.
“And when you think about how much you pay for each of those events, paying rent isn’t that bad.”
Roxanne said she wanted to help create a space that had something for everyone who walks in the door. And she’s hoping, like others opening in downtown Fort Madison, that the riverboat and rail traffic lend to an uptick in foot traffic.
Anderson said she loves that there are more places opening downtown.
“People should be able to walk around and browse and have interesting things to look at,” she said.
Roxanne agreed saying the more businesses the better.
“The last thing you want is for people to come into town and have a couple places they stop in and then leave,” she said. “Now you’re really starting to see things happen with all these places opening up.
Anderson is hoping to add to the inventory of repainted furniture pieces, that Roxanne puts her own personal touch on, with souvenirs and trinkets people who are just visiting the town can pick up.
“I am hoping to get some more Iowa and Fort Madison souvenir type things so they have something to take with them. When I’m traveling I just want something small I can take to remember it. A magnet or whatever.
An old carom game board hangs on the wall with the pieces in a basket next to it. The old floor board game doubles as decor in the former Lee County Bank building.
A counter top at the register is covered with resin and then has family memorabilia, old pictures and signatures of family preserved.
Anderson said this Saturday during the grand opening the store will be open from noon to 6 p.m., but she said they still haven’t set their regular hours. She said those updates will be placed on Facebook, and encouraged people to look there for hours in the future.
The company’s Facebook page can be accessed at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Odd%20Marvel%20Fort%20Madison