Treasure hunting at Twirly Birds takes careful timing

April 9, 2013

Typically retailers work overtime to promote their store hours, products and deals.

One Wauwatosa business throws those traditional sales tactics out the door. Twirly Birds opens for shopping only a few days each month. Unless you're aware of its downstairs location at 7532 W. State St., you could easily walk by without noticing it's there.

Twirly Birds is an "occasional store" said Penny Stark, who owns the store with Kim Jenkins. Shoppers are alerted to when the home décor business will be open by checking the website,, or signing up for email alerts.

The duo had been participating in shows and holding open house events in Penny's Wauwatosa home studio for several years. As they built a following and a mailing list, Kim kept her eye on that particular storefront. When the spot suddenly became available, they went for it, Stark said.

It's been on my list of spots to visit since I wrote the article announcing the business's opening nearly two years ago. But I just kept missing the open days.

I marked my calendar, alerted my mother and sister, and we headed out on a Saturday to check out Twirly Birds.

The first thing I noticed upon entering was that the owners fill every corner of the space, including a bathroom, with merchandise. They are masters of finding ways to beautifully display their pieces by color scheme or theme.

My home decorating scheme is red, white, black and gold, so I was on the lookout for a piece that could fit that color pattern. I ended up choosing a gold-painted round vase that now sits on a shelf in my living room.

My mom felt like she had walked into a version of her home while growing up. There were dishes, holiday decorations, clocks and cocktail glasses that her parents had owned - straight out of the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

"All of our product is vintage, or handcrafted using vintage ingredients," Stark said. "Our favorite places to shop are flea markets and estate sales. We love to repurpose items or put a new twist on something old. Kim takes vintage furniture and updates it with fun finishes and new fabric."

The duo may only be open for business two to three days per month, but they keep busy the rest of the time by shopping, creating new products and changing out the in-store displays.

I was interested in a number of photo frames, mirrors and other pieces that were made out of mosaics. They had a shabby chic and colorful look and were placed throughout the shop.

The mosaic frames and mirrors are an example of using vintage items in a new way. Penny makes them from vintage china, and sometimes pops in a vintage brooch.

"Everything in the store is either something we find or make," Stark said. "We don't consign product, but we do purchase things outright from customers."

Stefanie Scott is a former Wauwatosa NOW reporter who loves to get out and about in Tosa. Invite her to your event, business or group meeting by sending an email to


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