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Business notebook: Crafty cousins open shop

Downtown Sterling adds decor, build-a-pet business; donuts to be sold at Selmi's

STERLING – Brenda Roe and Heather Dunkel’s moms may have made them cousins, but time made them friends. 

Roe and Dunkel, who spent a lot of time doing their own homes in a farmhouse/primitive decor, now have a place where they can share their creativity with others:

Vintage Cousins Emporium, full of homemade decor and vintage collectibles, and The Emporium Build-A-Pet opened in April at the mini mall at 318 First Ave.

“We have a little bit of everything,” Roe said.

Roe runs the emporium, and Dunkel works with the build-a-pet shop, where children can choose and decorate a stuffed animal, give it a “bubble bath” or a checkup, sign adoption papers, and even get a birth certificate for their new pet.

Americana items are popular. “With the stars, you can decorate any kind of a home,” Roe said. “Add a touch of the Americana and it fits right in.”

Cousins is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Find it Facebook, email or call 815-632-3186 for more information. 

Selmi’s adds donuts

ROCK FALLS – Cliff and Rhonda Jones of Ashton, owners of Cliff’s Donuts and More, have retired and sold their traveling donut stand – and their recipes – to Selmi’s Greenhouse and Gifts in Rock Falls.

The donut trailer could be found at various Sauk Valley events during the 18 years the Joneses were in business. They mobile donut shop was known for, among other things, apple cider donuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

Matt Selmi doesn’t yet have a date yet when the donuts will again be available, but it will be “soon,” he said.

Find Selmi’s Greenhouse, Farm and Pumpkin Patch on Facebook or call 815-626-3830 for more information.

Software company turns 25

OREGON – An Oregon computer software business that started as a “leap of faith” has turned 25.

Noel Bruns left an IT job with ComEd in Chicago and transferred to the Byron Generating Station, where he worked for 7 years before founding Ablesoft Solutions Inc., in May 1994.

“The internet was just being born at that time. Starting a software business in a small town at that time was kind of a leap of faith,” the 59-year-old said. “The real drive to start the business was to control my environment and work with the people I wanted to work with.”

Ablesoft, 124 S. Fourth St., develops custom software for small and large companies. It offers custom business systems, word processing systems, mobile applications, web applications, and web design.

Bruns and his sons Eric and Ben are the management team: Eric is a programmer analyst and Ben is in sales. The other employees are account executive Michelle Green, who has worked there for 19 years, creative analyst Lisa Smith, 8 years, and senior programmer Alan Arians, 5 years. – Vinde Wells, Shaw Media

Have a business tip? Let us know. Email SVM reporter Cody Cutter at, or call 815-625-3600, ext. 5552.

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