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Vintage cars, fond memories

Greg’s Speed Shop opens

By Angie Landsverk

Greg and Leah Stelse hope their new business helps people relive memories and create new ones.

“We want to be able to slow life down for people,” she said.

In early March, they opened Greg’s Speed Shop just outside of Waupaca, at E4259 East Gate Drive.

There they sell cars from 1985 and below, offer mechanic services and full restorations, while also selling vintage and pinup clothing.

In addition, their plans include building a town square on the property.

Both Leah and Greg are partial to the 1940s and 1950s and envision creating one from that time period.

They bought the building in August 2016.

It was the former site of a flooring business.

Years ago, the Highway 10 outdoor theater was there.

A family vacation inspired Greg to start the business.

That trip was about three years ago and included a stop at the Henry Ford Museum, in Dearborn, Michigan.

“I’m a Chevy guy, and I’m at the Ford museum,” Greg said. “It was about life, and not about cars.”

He soon wanted to create such a feeling in this area and had to figure out how to tell Leah about his idea.

When he did, she was on board.

The Stelses also own a trucking company in New London, and he has worked on hot rods since he was about 12 years old.

“It was about life for me – what I want to do the rest of my life,” Greg said. “I have always been interested in cars and worked on cars.”

When he saw the building was for sale, he liked it because of its proximity to U.S. Highway 10.

Over the course of nine months, they built everything on their site and are already planning an addition.

“Our construction will be ongoing,” Leah said. “So we’ve been letting people in the doors from the start of construction, because everyone was curious. There were so many people who came in while we worked.”

He said, “By the time we are all done, we will have a total of about 19,000 square feet. People will be able to see cars being restored.”

They also bought 80 acres behind their buildings, which is where they plan to create a town square.

The signs and cars at Greg’s Speed Shop are among the items he has been collecting for about 20 years.

The brick featured on the showroom’s exterior and interior is from Chicago and dates to the early 1900s.

“I bought a semi load of that brick about nine years ago,” Greg said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.”

Because Greg wanted Leah to work with him, their business includes pinup style and vintage clothing.

“It’s priced reasonably,” he said. “Our focus is on the average person.”

Leah became interested in vintage clothing about 15 years ago.

“Once we got our first car together, he had me hooked line and sinker,” she said. “I just love the era.”

There are some clothing items for men as well, and they are adding more.

Clothing is on both the main level and upper one.

They also have an in-house seamstress, who handles alterations and custom makes clothing from vintage patterns they have for men and women.

The showrooms’ main level also has an old Texaco gas station backdrop and seating area where they sell coffee, soda and water.

“The old speed shop is where people hung out,” Greg said.

They have an old Bell phone booth from a Chicago hotel that still works – for a dime, he said.

The showroom part of their business also includes an old beauty shop, retro scenes and a living room/kitchen area, all which may be used for photo shoots.

There are various package prices to rent spaces.

“We want to give you a full experience,” Greg said. “It will be a full speed shop.”

He said they only work on older vehicles, with cars available for reasonable prices.

“When you walk in here, we want you to have a good feeling,” he said.

Greg’s Speed Shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and may be reached at 920-867-2939.

They are promoting it as a place for families to visit.

Greg also wants to work with area high school students interested in restoring cars and envisions apprenticeship opportunities.

They want each building on their property to have a purpose, and he believes the shop can be a destination spot in the state.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much money or stuff you have,” Greg said. “It’s about making memories.”

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