ABOUT US

 

5 GENERATIONS OF RETAILERS

(1860  to present)

Frank Kessenich (1860-1940) 
(Julie's great grandfather)

A Madison merchant for over 60 years he went out on his own in 1923 and opened Kessenichs at 26 N Carroll St (corner of State St) which he owned with his son Harry. Frank Riley, a famous Madison architect designed a monumental building in the French Renaissance style. Today that building is the facade of the Overture Center.

Harry Kessenich Sr. (1887-1979)
(Julie's grandfather)
After returning from the French trenches after WWI, he went back to work and ran his business for years. He joined forces with his cousins the Yost family and the store became Yosts-Kessenichs. My grandfather specialized in fabrics (on the bolt) and I spent many happy mornings in his office playing with fabric and cutting designs. The building was sold to Madison landmarks in 2003 and became the Overture Center.

Rupert Cornelius (1920-1999)
(My father )
In 1942 my father married my mother, Frances Kessenich ,at Rattlesnake  Field in Texas before Air Force training.  He was always slightly larger than life and had numerous escapades in Europe. He was a B17 pilot and flew 25 missions before returning home.
(He missed d-day because of a fractured skull playing baseball for the Air Force) He came back to work in department stores in Wisconsin and at age 50 started opening clothing stores! He was a brilliant, fearless, retailer who opened 15 stores in 10 years throughout the state of Wisconsin.



Julie
Cornelius

I have always kept a low profile and think of myself as the glue that holds our retail gene code together. Perfectly happy to run one store I learned the mechanics of the business to pass along to my son. Hardworking and business conservative I've enjoyed my career. I love retail and my customers and friends in the business. After 42 years at Hilldale shopping mall,  At age 67, I relocated Rupert's to an interesting smaller space on Monroe st. This is my retirement store.



Justin Machus
(Julie's son)
Classically trained as a photographer he embarked on a career in sports photography.  He moved to Portland, Oregon to shoot/ski/bike/skate/fashion.
                                                    

One day out of the blue, I received a call from Justin saying that he wants to open a store in Portland and its available NOW!  Within 6 weeks he was open having flown to Los Angeles for merchandise, painted and remodeled the whole store.  He was 25!  and pretty much on his own!   The store was called Local 35 and it was open on Hawthorne street for 8 years.  In 2011 he decided to move his store across town near the Industrial zone of the Burnside bridge. Not only did he close and move but he reinvented his direction to very stylized urban modern mens store.  A gifted retailer he is changing the direction of mens fashion in Portland.  His online store is hugely successful and he was able to connect his 2 careers.... photography and retail.
 

 

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