Brick & Mortar Home

No strangers to retail, Kathy and Thomas George have established Brick & Mortar Home with a fresh take on selling home goods.

Whereas most specialty shops focus on a specific look, Kathy says Brick & Mortar Home gives customers a unique experience. “We’re an eclectic mix,” she says. “Nobody can really say, ‘If you go there, you’re going to get all nautical, or all modern, rustic or cottage.’”

The Georges operate two Brick & Mortar Home locations in Lake Geneva in addition to their six clothing stores, which include E. Street Denim, ShoShoo and Bloomingbyrds downtown.

At 1,800 square feet, Brick & Mortar Home has been selling home accessories and gifts in Lake Geneva since 2009. Three years ago, the couple opened the 13,000-square-foot Brick & Mortar Home & Outdoor, on Center Street, across from Starbucks. This location provides a full-fledged furniture store focused on working one-on-one with customers to design the perfect look for their homes.

From sofas, chairs and lamps to wall art, candlesticks and rugs, consultants work with customers to find select pieces that fit their needs and style.

Most of the pieces featured in the stores come from trips made to furniture markets in North Carolina, Las Vegas or Atlanta. The couple travels about three or four times a year to look for new treasures, and a lot of their choices are made in the United States.

While other retailers have taken a hit after troubles in the economy, Kathy says the sale of home goods is a different beast. “It’s what I call making your house your home,” she says. “It’s truer now more than ever that people are really working on trying to look at the environment that they live in and trying to make it as comfortable as possible.”

Brick & Mortar Home & Outdoor works with customers who are planning to remodel their homes, and Kathy says the store makes a real impression as soon as they walk through the doors. “I think the biggest compliment people tell me when they walk in is, ‘I could live here,’” she says.

Kathy and Thomas have found inspiration for the store in many places. One of the couple’s favorite stores is in Geneva, Illinois plus they’ve enjoyed the popular HGTV show “Fixer Upper.” In fact, Brick & Mortar Home & Outdoor carries Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Home furniture line.

The Georges also spend 4 ½ months of the year on the west coast, which helps re-energize them and gives them new ideas to bring back to Wisconsin.

Additionally, Kathy’s own imagination goes a long way. “I don’t think anyone can teach you to be creative or have that knack of putting things together,” she says. “I think it’s an innate thing.”


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