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Arrivals and expansions: Monroe welcomes new, growing businesses
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Employee Kyle Welty rolls a fridge through the back room of Kevins Appliance & Mattress Superstore while organizing the appliances.
MONROE - Monroe will be home to two new specialty shops and a "superstore" for appliances and mattresses this fall.

The store on the Square, once known as Bauman Kitchens, will become the letterpress shop of new owners William T. Allan and Maryann K. Humphrey, currently living in Lancaster County, Penn. They intend to open their new shop, The Inkwell, in early November.

Allan said he has been in the printing business "forever" and admits he is well past retirement age. In fact, he and Maryann had at one time retired to Florida.

"That lasted less than a year," he said.

When Maryann met Allan about 30 years ago, he had been collecting letter press and type artifacts for more than 25 years. A commercial printer herself, she became interested in the collection and the letterpress process.

Letterpress is a renewed art form in printing, Allan explained. They use "old-fashioned equipment," electric or treadle powered; have a hundred different fonts in metal type; and hand feed the paper.

Not only is it an educational experience to watch, the process produces a unique finished product.

"It brings the craftsmanship back to the articles," Allan said.

Allan and Humphrey are not strangers to Wisconsin. Allan said he has had connections to Wisconsin since the early 1960s, and they have come back often for vacations. They also ran a gift store in Stoughton in the early 1990s.

Allan and Humphrey are well-known among professional and amateur letterpress printers and have led instruction in the fine art of foil embossing and die cutting on hand presses. Humphrey hosts a web page at Ladies of Letterpress, a web site "dedicated to the proposition that a woman's place is in the print shop."

Allan and Humphrey plan to get settled into their new home above the shop in September, before returning to Pennsylvania to ship their printing equipment to Monroe.

On the city's west side, Sais Murtadha is not a tobacco smoker, but that didn't dissuade him for opening a smoke shop. Murtadha is in a partnership with a Rockford smoke shop, but this store is his, he said.

Roll 'N Smoke opened Aug. 22 at 107 W. 8th St. with a large array of tobaccos for users of pipes, cigarettes, cigars and chews. Of course, all the amenities that come with smoking are available for the connoisseurs, including lighters, humidors, papers and rolling machines.

Murtadha said he carries a variety of tobacco flavors, such as cherry, Cavendish, whiskey and apple.

He also keeps plenty of snacks on the shelves for the non-smokers, like himself. Roll 'N Smoke is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

On 4th Avenue West, Kevin Genthe is taking his mattress and appliance store to a whole new dimension.

Kevin's Appliance and Mattress Superstore will be two and a half times bigger than his previous business space, an expansion from 6,600 to 17,000 square feet.

"The growth of me has led to the superstore," Genthe said.

Genthe will be adding two lines of new appliances, Frigidaire and Samsung, and will now feature up to 200 new and pre-owned appliances on the show floor.

"The mattress business has grown phenomenally," Genthe said. "We'll now have over 60 bed sets for your viewing pleasure - ready to fool your senses." Kevin's Superstore will carry high-end brand mattresses with memory foam.

Genthe plans to make the superstore a fun destination for shopping. "It's all here," he added.