Big plans for 12th Street store

The building long known as the Plaza on 12th Street has a new owner and has been transformed into the home for Custom Creations. Steve Ferguson, of Fort Dodge, purchased the 6,600-square-foot, L-shaped complex at 15 N. 12th St. and has launched what he said is a unique shop.

“It’s a thrift shop,” he said. “I think that I’m going to end up having a whole lot of stuff that no one else has. Mine isn’t going to be like any of the other stores. … It’s full of art, antiques, collectibles of all kinds – brass, silver, copper. There’s hopefully something for everyone.”

Ferguson has extensively renovated the building and said he plans to use 5,000 square feet as an expansive showroom for Custom Creations. The remainder of the structure is devoted to the apartment in which he lives and his workshop.

Custom Creations specializes in antiques, collectibles and artwork, Ferguson said.

“There is a lot of art work,” Ferguson said. “I probably have 150 pictures in storage in addition to the large number on display. I like vintage stuff. I like things from the 1970s. More on the collectible side.”

He said a feature setting his store apart from competitors is that he has the space to house a huge inventory.

The mix includes a diverse array of merchandise.

“I have couches, love seats, tables. I have appliances, freezers, washers, dryers, refrigerators, all that,” Ferguson said, noting that there is also a toy department and more.

He sells an assortment of custom-built furniture and other wood items that he designs and constructs in his workshop.

“It’s just about anything from gun cabinets, hall trees, cedar chests, coffee tables – just about anything that’s wood,” he said, reflecting on the custom projects he undertakes.

Ferguson said the diversity of the merchandise stocked will be a hallmark of his store.

It’s a combination of things that I make and the things that I can pick up at auctions – anything that’s different, a little bit out of the ordinary,” he said.

Ferguson said that his decision to open Custom Creations was a logical next step given a lifelong passion for collecting art and other unique items.

“Sometimes I’m drawn to something and I just have to have it,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to open a store like this for years and years and years. I’ve been a collector for quite some time and I’ve always thought I would like to do this.”

Ferguson said it made sense to locate his new venture in downtown Fort Dodge near the assortment of small specialty shops that have made 12th Street a destination for shoppers.

“I think it is perfect,” he said. “I think it is a really good spot here. There is a lot of traffic on 12th Street. I’ve got a lot of parking.”

Ferguson is also bullish on the economic prospects of his hometown and said that will be good for all local commercial venues.

“We’re on a growth cycle,” he said. “I see Fort Dodge making a comeback.”

While he’s only been open since the end of January, Ferguson said being the proprietor of Custom Creations is fun.

“I just love what I’m doing,” he said. “The people you meet are interesting. I’ve made a lot of new friends just since I opened the store. Sometimes they’ll just sit down in the office and chat.”

He added with a laugh that his passion for collecting sometimes produces a bit of dissonance given his new role as a merchant.

“The hardest thing I have is now and then a piece will come in that I’d like to keep,” he said. “I hate to see it go out the door. I have some personal attachment to a lot of this stuff. Some of it I’m really drawn to. The more collectible it is, the more I’m interested in it.”

Ferguson said his love for the types of items he sells helps him assess what other collectors will find appealing – understand what will sell.

He said the commitment he has to this undertaking means Custom Creations won’t be a passing fancy.

“I’m here to stay,” Ferguson said. “I bought the building. I’m not going anywhere. I want to make it a thrift shop that will always be remembered. … I want to create a shop where when people come in here they really enjoy their stay. They look around and they are happy. … I want everybody who comes in here to feel at home, welcome, comfortable and secure.”

He has a message for anyone who has yet to pay a visit to his store.

“Anybody who likes thrift shops needs to stop in and look around,” Ferguson said. “It’s pretty rare that somebody walks out of here without buying something. … The atmosphere in the store changes every day. I put more stuff out. I sell more stuff. I rearrange.”

Custom Creations is open Monday through Saturday. Ferguson said he expects shortly to expand the hours to include Sundays.