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Martha Stewart comes to Hudson

Knoke's Chocolates owner Dave Knoke receives a surprise visit from Martha Stewart. He was making caramel apples when the lifestyle guru stopped in his Locust Street shop. She asked how warm he cooks the caramel and critiqued its color.1 / 2
Susan Tierney of Knoke's Chocolates says she's a big fan of Martha Stewart. Tierney, left, got a chance to have a her picture taken with the TV and lifestyle celebrity during Stewart's visit to the Hudson candy shop.2 / 2

A visit by Martha Stewart to downtown Hudson on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 11, caused quite a stir among the employees and owners of downtown shops.

The lifestyle and TV celebrity reportedly spent about half an hour in Abigail Page Antique Mall, 503 Second St., before moving on to stops at Knoke’s Chocolates, 220 Locust St.; Micklesen’s Drug, 530 Second St.; Farmhouse Inspired, 522 Second St.; and La Rue Marche, 513 Second St.

Stewart is thought to have been accompanied by officials from Gartner Studios, possibly including president and CEO Greg Gartner.

Gartner Studios produces and distributes Stewart’s line of party supplies and greeting cards to J.C. Penney stores. This summer, Gartner’s distribution center moved into the former Duro Bag factory in the town of Hudson.

Stewart’s line of party candy will be packaged and distributed from the Hudson facility beginning next year.

All of the shop employees and owners who interacted with Stewart reported her being approachable and pleasant, if a bit reserved.

“She was just exactly how I thought she would be -- just how she acts on TV,” said Susan Tierney of Knoke’s Chocolates.

Stewart was “a little stand-offish and quiet,” Tierney said, but very accommodating. She granted all the employees’ requests to have photos taken with her, and wore candy wax lips with fangs for one shot with the staff.

Knoke’s owner Dave Knoke was making caramel apples when Stewart walked into the work area and asked him about the process.

“Geez, Dave, your caramel is looking kind of light,” she told Knoke, according to Tierney, who found it amusing. Knoke had run out of an ingredient that makes the caramel darker.

Knoke said Stewart wanted to know what temperature he cooks the caramel to, but he didn’t tell her. It’s a secret.

Stewart’s longest stay was in the antique mall, where she shopped unrecognized for close to half an hour before antique dealer Roseanna Dear-Leopold noticed who she was as she approached the cash register.

“I did a double-take and said, Martha Stewart!” Dear-Leopold related.

Earlier, before recognizing Stewart, Dear-Leopold had told Stewart’s party of four, “All the good stuff’s downstairs.”

That’s where Dear-Leopold and Lillie Bueckers, who also was working that day, have most of their antiques. The mall is a cooperative, with the dealers taking turns staffing it.

Stewart purchased an amber necklace, two Martha Stewart books that she signed for one of the men accompanying her, and vintage fabric from Dear-Leopold’s booth.

She told Dear-Leopold she was going to use the fabric to make her Christmas tablecloth.

When asked for her autograph, she wrote “Martha Stewart was here” on the back of a business card and dated it Sept. 11, 2013.  

Stewart stopped by Micklesen’s Drug at the invitation of Micklesen’s employee Heidi Lassen, who was in Knoke’s when Stewart visited there.

Lassen told Stewart it was a family-owned drugstore and offered to give her one of pharmacist Mark Anderson’s locally grown apples.

Stewart reportedly said she loved independently owned pharmacies. During her visit to the store, she bought a couple of personal care products and posed for a photo with one of Anderson’s Zestar apples.

“I told her she was prettier in person that she is on TV,” said pharmacy assistant Idona Williamson. “She said, you know what, thank you very much for saying that.”

Anderson described Stewart as “very down-to-earth, refined.”

Williamson added that she was “very personable, very friendly, very nice.”

Upon entering Rue Marche, Stewart asked if the women’s clothing was new or vintage. When shop owner Val Aune told her the clothing was new, Stewart looked around and took photos of some of the displays.

“She didn’t say much, really. She’s a quiet gal,” said Rue Marche employee Julie Druzbacky.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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