Advertisement
Custom car on display inside Greg's Speed Shop in Waupaca, Wisconsin

This Shop is Designed Like a Russian Doll

John Gunnell has been writing about classic cars since 1972. He is also the owner of Gunner’s Great Garage in Manawa, Wis. He owns 11 cars and seven motorcycles.

*See images in the photo gallery below

You’ve probably read about Greg’s Speed Shop in Waupaca, Wisconsin. Only a year-and-a-half old, this business has already had visits from superstars such as Gene Winfield, Jo Coddington and Cherry Dollface.

Owner Greg Stelse is pushing for even more, with plans for his shop to ultimately encompass 20,000 square feet, a good chunk of which will be used for fixing hot rods and classic cars. That’s only a part of the story, however.

When Stelse dreamed up the concept for his shop, he wanted his wife Leah to be totally involved in it. So, the couple decided to add other services, utilizing a shops-within-a-shop approach to create a full-range automotive entertainment and lifestyle center. Greg’s now features a two-story vintage clothing store and hat shop, a 1940s and 1950s style pinup girl photo studio and an old-fashioned beauty shop with turquoise furnishings and beehive hair dryers.


BONUS READING: Read more about Greg's Speed Shop on page 94 of the November 2018 issue of THE SHOP magazine.


To get a read out on the appeal of specialty shops, we asked Krista Peters to accompany us on a visit to Greg’s Speed Shop. Peters—better known as Candy Girl—is a young lady with a deep appreciation of the ‘40s and ‘50s. A sometimes seamstress, she sews her own postwar period dresses, experiments with classic hair-dos and does photo shoots with vintage cars and hot rods.

As might be expected, Candy Girl and Leah Stelse hit it off from the start. Leah showed Peters an assortment of the old-school skirts, dresses, blouses and hats that she offers for sale at the Speed Shop, along with logo T-shirts. Some of the garments are custom creations and some are nationally known name-brand items.

To enter the dress shop and hat shop, Candy Girl had to pass through an old-fashioned turnstile. Once inside, she marveled at the wide array of merchandise for sale on both levels of the building. The vintage beauty parlor on the second floor brought a big smile to her face. Naturally, she had to “try one of the hair dryers on for size.” Candy Girl also got to meet pinup model Mimi Meow, who was visiting Greg’s Speed Shop from Iowa.

The pinup girl photo studio is in the main building at Greg’s Speed Shop. It is patterned after a ‘50s living room, complete with a period-correct television set and a stylized free-standing fireplace with a futuristic look—for the ‘50s at least. Greg and Leah charge set fees, by the hour, for photographers wanting to use the photo studio as a backdrop for shoots. They have also done workshops for the public, with nationally-known models such as Cherry Dollface, during the Iola Car Show and Symco Rod & Kustom Weekender.

Candy Girl was impressed with her whirlwind tour of Greg’s Speed Shop and with all the specialty shops set up within the main shop.

“I think that Greg and Leah have something going here,” she said, “that many other shop owners would be interested in.”