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New stores await grand opening in former Ben Franklin building

April 3, 2008

From designer apparel to award-winning chocolates, customized lighting and eco-friendly fitness wear, the new Beyond Lighting store has it all. The downtown store moved into the former Ben Franklin building and expanded into a specialty shop that includes a variety of businesses.

The store was vacant for two months after the Ben Franklin craft store went out of business. The space was bought, leaving April Ingalls, owner of Beyond Lighting, next door to the abandoned space.
After the space was bought, Ingalls introduced herself to the new owner of the empty building. His plans for the space were no longer feasible, and he sold her the space.

“It just kinda clicked how it happened. It was on the market for only days. I was sick to find out about it being sold. Then it just happened. It was meant to be,” Ingalls said.

Beyond Lighting was originally a custom lighting store that specializes in lighting. The business also repairs lamps and does home consultations.

Also available are greeting cards unique to the area, home décor and Wicked Wick candles that are made of soy, created locally and are refillable.

Ingalls also hopes to sell local art in her store. She encourages any of the University’s students or local artists to submit their work for display.

As a frequent customer to Kristi Straub’s store, Little New York, in Ellsworth, Ingalls convinced Straub to join her at the new, large location in River Falls. Little New York specializes in jewelry, purses and accessories.

“I am keeping my prices really low. I think it’s better to sell a lot at lower prices than nothing at high prices. There is nothing over $60,” Straub said.

Straub’s shop has been the only one opened for business of the potential eight stores to appear in the large space. The others will open for business on Saturday.

“I bought two purses from Little New York already. I also bought three rings and am probably going back tomorrow to shop,” student Megan Shervey said. “They have an awesome selection.”

Among the other businesses to start at Beyond Lighting are Lori’s Massage and Day Spa, River Chocolate Company and Bella Luce.

Bella Luce, formed by Hudson resident Stacy Corbo is a new family owned and operated business in River Falls.

Five different lines, prom dresses, sports wear, footwear, oils, moderately priced jeans, gift packs, incense and high end designer clothes at an affordable cost will be available at Bella Luce. These all include brands that are environmentally friendly clothing line made of soy and bamboo.

“My 21-year-old daughter [Jaden Giraud] is my fashion confidant and has traveled with me checking out clothes. My son [Jesse Wohlhoeser] has helped out my partner Jeff a lot with the finance and construction of the store,” said Corbo. “We’ve found clothing in Minneapolis and have done fashion research in Florida.”

Corbo’s other daughter, Jamie Womick, is involved with the sales. Corbo is excited about starting a new business so quickly and is happy to have her family involved in the process.

“It’s all about family here,” Corbo said.

Lori’s Massage and Day Spa is already an established business in River Falls located on North Second Street, but will be opening an Express Spa in the Beyond Lighting store. Massages and body products will be available.

The River Chocolate Company, famous for its truffles, is already an established business from the area as well. With many awards, including the 2003 City Pages “Best Of” for Chocolate in the Twin Cities and the 2002 Best New Food Product for the Midwest Food and Wine Experience, the chocolates are worth a try. This will be the chef, Allen Whitney and his partner Deirdre Davis’ first attempt at a small restaurant.

“Most of our fruits are from small, sustainable farms within the area,” said Davis.

Included will be deli-like soups ranging from exotic flavors like watermelon and Thai, all-organic ingredients, vegan, vegetarian, and classic foods, paninis, chocolate drinks and seating for 30 people. An espresso machine will be used to provide “real coffee” without syrup.

“I can’t even tell you about the salads. You won’t use any utensils to eat it and no, it’s not grazing,” Davis said. “You’ll just be able to pick out your salad and walk out the door.”

Beyond Lighting, now as a collaborative store, decided to keep its name from the former lighting store now referring to the entire space and all its available products.

The store’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with hours on Thursday until 8 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The grand opening of the store is set for April 5.