Traci Webber

Baskets in the Belfry to close after 33 years

June 9, 2011 // 0 Comments

Owner will stay surprisingly near as Polly’s Passions by BETH ALTENA The Baskets in the Belfry famous chocolate fountain may be gone forever with the closing of Baskets, a Rockford icon of business, but owner Polly VonEschen and her candy business Polly’s Passions, will remain remarkably near. When Baskets’ doors close forever by the end of this month, Traci Webber of Grand Cakes will transition from her current Courtland Street location to 18 Bridge Street. There VonEschen will use the kitchen to create her amazing sea foam, toffee, peanut brittle, turtles and a wide variety of truffles. “Once I made the decision, it was a relief,” said VonEschen, taking care to point out that she is all right with the decision to close, although it is bitter sweet. VonEschen came to Rockford because of job transfer for her husband’s work. New in town, she first met Chi Chi Rogers, former mayor and city council member. Rogers begged VonEschen to put her name down as entertainment chair for the Start of Summer Celebration, claiming the work was all done and they simply needed a name on the form. VonEschen has been an organizer for Start of Summer ever since, and this is her 24th year. “They had me in charge of the entertainment, and the band for the dance tent was the German Oompahs,” VonEschen said. “I couldn’t leave and let them think I’d done that.” Turns out the German Oompahs, while amazing, aren’t the best choice for a dance tent band. VonEschen, like Baskets, is a fixture in Rockford, and extremely involved in the town, the business community and service groups. She is a Lion, is active in the Heart of Rockford merchants association, an organizer for the Girlfriends Staycation, has organized Think Pink, and been an organizer for Rockford’s Harvest Fest. She is a board member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, the Rockford Area Community Endowment (which brings the West Michigan Healing Fields to the area this year for an amazing 9/11 memorial), is on the Downtown Development board, and the Healing Fields board. Baskets was purchased from the store’s original owner, Paula Sedrowski, in 2005. “Paula was ready to retire and I wasn’t,” VonEschen said. She had worked in the business for […]