Quintessential Shopping

Foreign 5 is one-of-a-kind special occasion store

A FINE TIME FOR WINE. In 2009, David Gordon and Sheldon Gough took over Foreign 5, offering eclectic fashion, wine, food and more.
A FINE TIME FOR WINE. In 2009, David Gordon and Sheldon Gough took over Foreign 5, offering eclectic fashion, wine, food and more.

In downtown Chippewa Falls, there’s a bridal shop, a florist, a gift shop, a boutique, a wine and cheese store, and a deli – and they’re all behind the same storefront. Foreign 5, originally opened in 1971, is like a department store, without the lengthy aisles and with the homey, personal feel of a longtime local staple. It’s a one-stop shopping venue for brides-to-be, holiday gifters, stylish women, hungry families, and clever husbands.

In 2009, David Gordon and Sheldon Gough were recently retired, having left their city lives in Cincinnati and Minneapolis for Chippewa Falls, where they spent many summers during their working years. That is when the original owners of Foreign 5 listed the business for sale.

Gordon and Gough, who didn’t want to see the business close in the absence of a buyer, decided to take the project up. They purchased the store, hired all of the original employees, and are now in their eighth year of ownership. “We couldn’t let a store like this close in Chippewa,” Gough said.

Groups frequently gather in Foreign 5’s “Lucy’s Deli” to enjoy card games, club meetings, and – of course – the seasonal menu. Lucy’s offers coffee, sandwiches, breakfast pizza, soups, and more, besides functioning as a traditional deli where one can pick up Boar’s Head meat and cheese.

Besides casual get-togethers, the store hosts three ladies’ nights every year, which include wine tastings and boutique fashion shows.

Customization options abound at Foreign 5. One can work with a staff member to arrange a custom gift basket with wine, cheese, and more, or design a custom corsage with a florist. The team is happy to work with people to find the perfect match at the perfect price, no matter what the occasion.

Foreign 5 has an array of women’s clothing and a seasonal gifts section. With racks featuring everything from carefully matched, earth-tone ensembles to blingy Green Bay gear, the fashion-forward will feel right at home. The gift department offers puzzles, magnets, and plenty of wall hangings with inspirational quotes.

There is a large section dedicated to Chippewa Falls and McDonell High School gear for men, women, and children. These pieces are designed and printed locally, and Foreign 5 donates a portion of the profits to the schools.

“Had we not had our long-term employees, we would have had a lot rougher road,” Gough said of transitioning into the new business style. Both had business experience, but neither had worked in retail – let alone selling dresses and wine. From the onset, they aimed to empower the staff in order to make the most of their experience and knowledge.

That experience paid off, allowing Gordon and Gough to step back and watch as the store thrives. They come in frequently to socialize with repeat customers and check in with the management – that would be Roxie Konsella, who has worked at Foreign 5 for 27 years.

Konsella worked in the menswear department through the purchase, fitting tuxes and matching ties to dresses. Now she oversees the entire venue, greeting customers with a warm smile and a helping hand. She speaks of customer service as a positive feedback loop. The staff helps customers, who leave happy. When those satisfied customers return, there’s a relationship between them and the staff, who are even happier to serve.

“We get repeat customers, and that keeps me coming back,” Konsella said. That special relationship is what she believes sets Foreign 5 apart. “You can buy wine a lot of places, but it isn’t as personal,” she said.

“We want it to be a place where people want to come,” Gordon said. He and Gough love what they do because of the connections they have made with their employees and with the repeat customers. “With the people, the customers, it’s a fun place to be.” he added. “You can really get to know folks.”

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