Editor’s note: Each week we will literally throw a dart at a map of Eastern Iowa. Where the dart lands, we’ll head in search of a story. We hope to discover and share stories of people and places we might not ordinarily take note of, but who make our communities special.
By Katie Mills Giorgio, correspondent
MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon is somewhat of a Mecca for antique lovers.
Alice Schumacher, 49, of Mount Vernon, knows this well.
As owner of Alice’s Wonderland, a shop featuring “antiques, uniques and beads” just a block off Highway 1, Schumacher sees a lot of people coming through town on an antique pilgrimage.
“I meet a lot of people,” she said. “The world is much smaller than you think.” She said travelers from the Davenport area often stop on their way to Des Moines for antique shopping.
“I do think there is a growing interest in repurposing,” she said.
Schumacher and her husband John have lived in the Mount Vernon area from the last decade. Schumacher, hailing originally from southern Oregon, said she appreciates the small town atmosphere.
“I love the community; everyone knows you,” she said. “It’s quaint and cozy, quiet, peaceful Mount Vernon.”
Alice’s Wonderland — which she opened seven years ago on the Fourth of July — is pretty cozy as well, thanks to all the antique treasures and crafting supplies packed inside.
“I have so much stuff, it’s pretty eclectic,” she said.
She said she loves “ordinary things.”
“As I’ve gotten older I’ve started appreciating old things,” she said. “Old industrial stuff especially, like old work benches. And I love folk art, one of a kind things that grandpa made on the farm.”
The sign hanging above Alice’s cash register reads “Cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” It’s a statement that rings true at Alice’s Wonderland, which happens to be home to five of them. There’s Munch, Tiny, Boo, Momma and Buster. Weighing in at 22 pounds, Buster is the most famous resident.
“He was a stray living behind city hall when we met him,” Schumacher said. “We couldn’t even touch him.”
Schumacher has created her own workshop within her Wonderland as well where she fixes up items and prices them for the shop. “I love to find something that is falling apart and headed for the landfill — old paint brushes, spools, ordinary things that people think is junk. They have a beauty of their own.”