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Story Behind the Storefront: SpectaGals Optical & Gift Boutique

Walking inside, I immediately recognized the glasses perched on Christina Rock’s nose. It’s not every day you see a pair of hot pink, cat-eyed frames. Turning around, I saw the same pair featured on the SpectaGals logo on the storefront window.

Rock, the founder and owner of SpectaGals Optical & Gift Boutique, has cultivated a vibrant, chic shop on the front corner of the Indian Creek Plaza. 

Wearing glasses from a very young age, Rock realized national chain and department store frames didn’t give her the opportunity to express herself the way she wanted to; she didn’t want your typical, rectangular glasses. Rock realized that glasses are, by nature, practical, but that doesn’t mean they have to lack style. 

“I started my career in the optical world in my early twenties,” Rock explained. “Having my own boutique had always been a dream, and my love for everything unique led me to finally pull the trigger.” 

SpectaGals began as a mobile optical front, but Rock quickly realized her vision for the company required a storefront. The purpose of SpectaGals is to provide glasses that enhance your vision, accentuate your personality and add to your style.

“The first thing people see about you is your eyes,” Rock explained. “My boutique is filled with beautiful, unique pieces of eyewear that are crafted to bring out your best qualities and tell the story of what makes you, you.”

Looking for a place to establish SpectaGals, Rock knew she wanted to be on the plaza, surrounded by other people who were trying to improve and build upon Caldwell’s roots.

I have lived in Caldwell for 8 years, and when I saw the excitement and attraction that the Indian Creek Plaza was drawing into the area, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” Rock said. “Honestly, I was drawn to the exact location I’m in whenever I visited downtown.”

Peeking in the shop’s window and imagining what she could do with the property, Rock contacted the space’s owners. Rock believed her shop could improve and enhance the Caldwell community, and she was determined to make her dream a reality. 

“Combine vision with style and you have a winning pair,” Rock said. “We discussed what I envisioned for the space and how it could serve our community. Soon after, 110 South Kimball Avenue came to life, and the rest is history!”

Characterized by its unique frames, SpectaGals offers the perfect pair of glasses for all face shapes, styles and needs. Rock prides herself in her extraordinary selection and her ability to make everyone feel comfortable and seen. 

But individuality goes much farther than a pair of glasses. That’s why the boutique also features linen clothes from Ukraine, elegant hats for all occasions, hand-crafted leather bags and carved, wooden jewelry. 

Whether you’re ready to hit the beach in a sun hat, linen dress and circular sunglasses or want to cozy up with a candle, notebook and your new reading glasses, Rock’s shop offers accessories to match any mood. 

“Recently, I was told by someone that the boutique elevates the everyday,” Rock said. “I love and appreciate that comment, and also believe it to be true.”

These special, individual pieces all come together to create something so much more than a glasses shop; SpectaGals offers everyone the chance to express themselves, find their style and support small businesses. 

“My mantra has always been ‘where vision meets style,’” Rock explained. “My vision for the future of SpectaGals is to continue and expand a carefully curated collection of fine and unique eyewear, art and gift items.”

So the next time you need a pair of sunglasses to beat the plaza’s heat or are hoping to add a unique piece to your wardrobe, drop into SpectaGals for an experience catered to you and your style, and know the story behind the storefront. 

 

Megan Williams

Some families grew up playing board games in the comfort of their living room. Others loved hiking, camping and anything in the great outdoors. But Goose and Malia Tate’s family bond over bees. That’s right, the insect most people cannot stand, the Steele’s care for in their backyard. 

Malia’s parents, Shaun and Kris Steel, started Steele Apiaries almost 30 years ago. With over 4,000 beehives, they transport them throughout Idaho, Montana, Oregon, California and Washington in order to pollinate crops and produce delicious honey. 

With their bee empire continuing to grow, the family business has followed suit, manifesting in their daughter, Malia Tate. Jokingly referring to herself as a C-team beekeeper, Tate was not expecting to stay involved in the bee business, but her husband quickly caught the bug.  

“My husband is that manual labor kind of guy who loves being outside,” Tate said. “My dad needed some extra help one season and asked my husband for help. He just fell in love with it. He calls the bees ‘his girls,’ and all this other stuff. It’s ridiculous, but he loves it.”

As Goose’s passion flourished, he began caring for his own hives and harvesting honey in their backyard. Living in a subdivision and using Facebook to market honey sales, the Tate's realized HOA living didn’t quite fit their lifestyle. 

“We just didn’t belong there,” Malia said. “We love our new property so much more because we have so much space to sell what we want and to have room to host people and do tours. It takes a lot of time, but it’s working out really well.” 

After moving, Goose wanted help in selling his honey, and he wanted to expand beyond Facebook announcements. But Malia, having grown up around the bee business, did not want this to be her life’s work. 

“I was over it. I had done this my whole life and I was a teacher and we had our own kids. I just didn’t want to do it,” Malia said. “I ended up agreeing because it feels like a really strong connection to my grandpa and my family. I decided to attach the company name to something that I care about, so that’s why it’s called Steele Legacy.” 

Establishing their company about three years ago, The Tate's have been improving and expanding their business on their new property. Walking into their storefront, your eyes are immediately drawn to the wooden crates and tin sheets creating a handcrafted wallpaper. Taking the tin sheets from their parents’ old shop and collecting boxes from their operation, the walls tell the story of Steele Legacy’s beginnings. 

Selling two varieties of honey, hand-made soaps, apparel, and children’s books, the shop has everything you would want and expect at a honey farm, with a few added surprises. Hanging on a clothes rack in the corner are beekeeping suits in all different sizes. Each embroidered with a Steele family name, the suits are available for use on Goose’s beekeeping tours. 

After suiting up, Goose takes participants into the bee’s domain, showing them how to collect honey, check the hive’s health, and teaching about the secret life of bees. After a tour, the Tate’s take a photo and put it up on their wall in the shop as a way to connect you to the Steele’s legacy. 

“Growing up there was a place in Stanley that put a picture of my family on their wall in the hotel. So every time we came back, we would go and check to see if our picture was still on that wall,” Malia explained. “It’s a fun way to incorporate people into our family and to connect with them.”

Another way the Tate’s try to stay family focused is through educational classes on their property. Malia hosts homeschool and other children’s groups that want to learn more about bees and their important role in our ecosystem. With several adorable books and a pretend hive, she is able to show the life of a beekeeper and share her passion for teaching and bees. 

“We pretend that we’re beekeepers and I have all these tools to help with that,” Malia said. “We practice what to do when we first come to a hive, what to look for, and show the kids the life of a beekeeper.”

Their connection with the community is the backbone of Steele Legacy Honey & Crafts. Without the support from the residents, shoppers, and agricultural community, it would be difficult to continue their family’s history in the way they have.

“That’s one of my favorite things about Steele Legacy honey, sharing our family culture and what we love about connection and the bees to everyone else,” Malia said.

So the next time you need some more honey in your pantry or you’re looking for an adventurous activity, stop by Steele Legacy Honey & Craft and know the tale behind the trail. 

 

Megan Williams

All photos courtesy of Steele Legacy's Facebook page

Eat, drink and be merry. That’s the perfect slogan for the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, and one of its participants that perfectly embodies this lifestyle is Parma Ridge Winery & Bistro. Known for delectable food and even better wine, Parma Ridge has been captivating citizens of the Treasure Valley for the past seven years. 

Parma Ridge’s story begins in 1998, when Dick and Shirley Dickstein planted grapes on their property. The Dickstein's quickly caught the wine bug, wanting to produce their own vintages. After purchasing the proper equipment and building a small winery, they began selling wine at local stores and in their facility in the early 2000’s. 

Nearing retirement age, Dick quickly realized his new hobby was going to require more work and time than he was able to put in. That’s where Storm and Stephanie Hodge come in. With over 20 years of culinary experience, Storm found the property listing online, and the couple decided to move to Idaho and build upon the success of the Dickstein family. 

“From day one, we knew we wanted to have great wine, but we also wanted great food,” 

Stephanie explained. “We had to go through the Health Department and put in a good amount of work for all those processes, so we decided to have a larger menu than we originally planned.”

Instead of simply offering charcuterie boards and appetizers, the Hodge’s put Storm’s skill to use and offered sliders and sandwiches as well. Receiving incredible feedback from customers, they continued to expand the menu. 

“A lot of the local customers were really intrigued and impressed by our food. So we expanded the menu based on our feedback from customers, what they love, and what Storm is good at,” Stephanie said. “You can come out and do a wine tasting, and you can also enjoy an appetizer or dinner, and that’s really fun.”

While improving their food, the Hodges refused to sacrifice the quality of their wine, intriguing customers across the Treasure Valley. While working in the culinary industry in Washington, Storm learned the in’s and out’s of wine production from a fellow winemaker. Stephanie explained that the older and more popular Parma Ridge Winery & Bistro has become, the more their wine has improved. 

“One of the things that has changed since we first opened is having an inventory and having the ability to age our wine as long as we wanted to,” Stephanie explained. “The recent wines we’ve won awards for have truly showcased our work.”

One of the several award-winning wineries on the Sunnyslope Wine Trail, Parma Ridge Winery & Bistro received incredible recognition at the 2022 Idaho Wine Competition. Their 2019 Petit Verdot won best of class and a double gold medal, 2021 Gewürztraminer received a double gold medal, and the 2019 Syrah won a gold medal. 

“The Idaho Wine Competition is one that we’ve always participated in, and it was so exciting to be recognized for the quality of our wine because we’ve had a lot of customers that have always recognized our quality,” Stephanie said. 

It is to those customers and the community of the Sunnyslope Wine Trail that the Hodge’s attribute a piece of their success. Stephanie explained the camaraderie and promotion offered by the trail has greatly added to their experience as business owners. 

“Many times we have customers tasting the trail, so people will come from Koenig Winery or Huston Vineyards, and they want to taste and have lunch or dinner,” Stphanie explained. “It’s really been a lot of fun because it has helped make us a destination for people.”

As they continue to receive more recognition and grow their business, the Hodges want to continue that unyielding quality and commitment to customers that they’ve had since the beginning. 

“We’re really just trying to do the best we can to improve our craft and not get diluted in other things,” Stephanie said. “Our plan is pretty straight-forward: we want to create a really fun environment and to continue to improve on our quality.”

So the next time you want to sit outside, sipping on a smooth glass of wine, or feast on a smoky pulled pork sandwich, head over to Parma Ridge Winery & Bistro and know the voice behind the vine. 

 

Megan Williams

All photos courtesy of Parma Ridge Winery & Bistro Facebook

With summer in full swing, it's time to refresh your favorite sunny-day activities. Sitting by the community pool is relaxing, and grabbing a scoop of your favorite ice cream always helps keep you cool. But there has to be more to summer in the Treasure Valley than shopping and sweet treats, right?

Well, you're in luck because the farms and family businesses on Destination Caldwell's AgVenture Trail have lots of opportunities for you to get outside, get your hands dirty, and enjoy the summer sun in a new way.

Farm Tours

Whether you're trying to think of ways to engage your kids without a tablet or television, or you want to enjoy an afternoon with some friends, farm tours are the perfect opportunity to make new memories and experience the simple life in Caldwell.

Cherry Hill Farms' annual Cherry Tours are July 22 at their property in Caldwell, Idaho. Offering wagon rides, animals, cherry picking, and lots of scrumptious goodies, Cherry Hill Farms is giving you an inside scoop on all things fruit for one day only! Along with enjoying their picturesque property, you can also see their corn maze progress and visit their fruit stand.

Critters Creek Farm offers tours for groups up to 12 people! With alpacas, cows, pigs, and sheep, you might just meet your new favorite animal and experience cuteness overload! Tours are 60-90 minutes and $15 a person for those over three years of age.

If you're looking for smaller creatures, Steele Legacy Honey & Craft has a great alternative: beekeeping tours! With group and private options, the Tate family gives you an up-close look at the life of one of nature's most mystifying creatures. You can conquer your fear of the bee and taste fresh honey, giving you memories to not only last the summer, but the rest of your life!

 

U-Pick Flowers

Need something to brighten your day and your kitchen? Stop by Mason Creek Flower Farm, Peaceful Belly Farm or Lovely Hollow Farms for U-Pick flowers this summer! Perusing fields of sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and daisies is the most blissful addition to your summer bucket list. Offering containers to hold your blooming treasures, both farms charge by the bucket for your flowers, allowing you to create a beautiful and budget-friendly bouquet!

 

Produce Stands

Are those grocery store zucchinis looking a little limp? Are you struggling to find ruby red cherries in your produce aisle? Look no further than the produce stands of your hard-working, local farmers for all your fruit and vegetable needs. There are four farms on the AgVenture Trail with open fruit stands this summer, giving you the chance to learn about how your favorite foods are grown around the corner! Here's a list of farm stands and hours for your convenience!

Lakeview Fruit: Monday - Friday: 10 am - 6 pm; Saturday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm

McIntyre Pastures: Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8 am - 5 pm; Tuesday & Thursday: 10 am - 4 pm; Saturday: 9 am - 1 pm

Cherry Hill Farms: Monday - Saturday: 9 am - 6 pm

The Shed at Garrett Ranches: Monday - Saturday: 11 am - 5 pm

 

Don't let the summer pass you by! Make sure to support local farms and ranches by visiting their properties, buying their produce and taking advantage of their events!

 

Megan Williams

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