One-of-a-kind finds in Gilbert, Iowa

Gilbert, Iowa — population right around 1,000 — is home to two of the cutest little shops you’ve ever seen.

The shops, J.B. Knacker and Left Bank Studio, make up the vast majority of Main Street Gilbert. (There’s also a consignment shop that’s quite nice and, I believe, a post office.)

The Left Bank Studio is owned by artist Jo Myers-Walker and features the art of Myers-Walker and five other artists, including Sarah Dorn. Sarah was in the shop on Saturday when I stopped by. She showed me around the shop, which is a former bank building. It’s not large, but it’s filled with wonderful paintings and jewelry and whimsical home decor. Much of it is under $20, and Sarah said that Myers-Walker offers custom designs on request.

The shop — and Myers-Walker — was featured in the Des Moines Register’s Iowa Life section in September 2010 and, more recently, in The Iowan magazine’s March/April 2011 issue.

If the artwork doesn’t draw you into the shop, I’m told they serve a yummy lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the “Write Brain Cafe” in the front of the shop. I may have to go back up there for soup, salad, and custard pie one of these days. The Left Bank is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

(By the way, I visited the Left Bank website and found that it was not very up to date. But if you go to the blog, its last update is a little more recent.)

Right next door to the Left Bank Studio is JB Knacker. JBK is my go-to shop for vintage furniture and interior design inspiration. Every time I’ve gone in the shop it’s been filled with different merchandise — all vintage, all funky, all inspired.

JB Knacker opened its doors in November of 2005 after four successful years as an occasional sale. The shop now keeps regular hours on Tuesday through Friday from 1-6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The shop is in a 130-year-old two-story building, and on this particular day I found it overflowing with goodies: antique furniture, glassware, homemade soaps, vintage photographs, old spectacles, pillows, dresses, an antique high chair, bicycles, jars, windows, jewelry, gardening supplies, vintage signs, dishes, baby shoes, a bowl full of silver cups, cameras, and much, much more.

I didn’t buy anything on Saturday, but I’ve bought plenty in the past: a pink, floral-upholstered chair for my daughter, an old wooden ladder that I brought home and painted periwinkle, good-smelling soaps. The thing I love about this store isn’t so much what’s in it but how it’s presented. I would never think to display things the way they do, to pair odd items together or pile dozens of the same thing in a vintage bowl and viola! It’s the focal point of your room.

If you go to Gilbert, enjoy these shops — and then do yourself a favor and stop by Ada Hayden Heritage Park just a couple of miles south on Hwy. 69. It’s a wonderful place to walk or bike. There’s a large lake with a paved 3-mile path around the perimeter and a bridge cutting across the north end. I promise to take some pictures and share them with you once the trees start to green up.


2 comments so far

  1. Sarah Dorn on

    Thank you for including me in your post, it was great to meet you. Yes, you should check out the Write Brain Cafe for lunch sometime!!!!

  2. Brenda Schwager on

    Thank you so much for taking the time to visit our shops in Gilbert. We work hard and are proud of our shops and small town! Thank you for your sweet comments and showcasing a little bit about us! Good luck in your travels and come back soon!
    Brenda Schwager/JB Knacker owner

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