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Meet Us on Main Street: Shannon Penisten

West Branch's historic Main Street is a charming and quaint business district located just off I-80 at exit 254 (just 6 miles from Iowa City). It's home to unique small businesses and boasts an abundance of Iowa history. There's plenty to eat, shop & explore in West Branch but what makes it extra special is the people you'll meet here.

West Branch Community Development Group is pleased to highlight our local businesses with the Meet Us on Main Street series featuring Q&A's with business owners that make our Main Street so special. Today, it's our pleasure to lift up Shannon Penisten! Shannon is the owner of White Pumpkin Studio, a modern boutique specializing in unique gifts, party décor, and custom gift boxes. Here's our Q&A with Shannon:

Tell us a little about your background. I grew up in Iowa City, attended the University of Iowa for business school and just recently finished up my Masters in Business Analytics also at U of I. One question I’m always asked is where “White Pumpkin” came from. I'm a fan of fairy tales, the White Pumpkin is a nod to the original Cinderella's pumpkin carriage! Once I landed on this name I knew it was practically perfect in every way.

Where can we find you? White Pumpkin Studio is located at 109 North Downey Street - in the historic Opera Block building that was recently renovated downtown West Branch! You can also shop online at and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram @whitepumpkinstudio. Our shop is open for in-person shopping Thursday & Friday from 12-5pm and Saturdays 10am-5pm.

What motivated you to start your business? My love of gift giving and my business background is what motivated me to start my own business and I have never looked back!

How long have you been operating? I started White Pumpkin Studio in January 2020 as a passion project from my home. As the pandemic came into full swing, like so many others, my full time position was eliminated. I turned my attention to what I was passionate about to make the best out of a tough situation. With that, I opened up our storefront in June 2020!

What inspires your work and what sets your business apart? We provide modern and unique gifts for all ages, party supplies to elevate your celebrations, and items for your home such as our Rifle Paper Co. stationary. My mom, Beth, and I hand pick every item that you see in the shop and we make sure our products are high quality and their aesthetics really enhance the shopping experience you have in our store. Another unique thing about our shop is that we create custom and premade gift boxes.

Describe the products/services you offer. Our focus is Paper + Party + Gifts!

  • Paper: greeting cards for all occasions, journals, notepads, and our popular character pens

  • Party: themed paper products for your next celebration, fun cocktail napkins, birthday candles

  • Gifts: unique gifts for all ages and celebrations

What are a few of your top-selling items? Our candy cart is always a great place to stop and shop. We have so many different types of candies and chocolates to choose from!

What brought you to Main Street West Branch? Growing up on the eastside of Iowa City we would always come to West Branch for Christmas Past, Hoover's Hometown Days, and come into the town to shop. When I was looking for places for my storefront I walked into the space and even though it was under construction I could immediately see the store coming to life here. I love all the events in town and really enjoy being on the other side of them as a business owner but still being able to attend!

What are your plans for the future of your business? We are always changing things up in the shop, whether it's changing our displays, bringing in new products, or working on our next event! We will continue to strive for unique products so be sure to stop in or check out our website to see all the new goodies! I also look forward to expanding our gift boxes and bringing in more party supply related items for your celebrations!

Fun Fact: I LOVE dill pickles! There's always multiple different types of dill pickles in my fridge at any time. 😊

Meet Us on Main Street to visit with Shannon as you Eat, Shop, Explore at Exit 254!

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