Toy Haus in Monroe is one of the businesses participating in the Main Street Marketplace.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of retail stores, it customers were challenged to find information about which stores offered online sales or curbside pickup—and likewise, stores struggled to get the word out to customers interested in using those services.

The Main Street Marketplace online portal was created to bring together retailers located in Wisconsin’s participating Connect Communities and Main Street communities into a searchable directory of locally owned shops people could peruse digitally.

The portal’s goal is to benefit both shoppers, who can now visit one centralized website to find products available for mail order or curbside pickup, and retailers, who can more easily connect with buyers for their products.

“Local small businesses have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “This is a great opportunity to help sustain local and small businesses in our downtown districts throughout Wisconsin.”

The website, which is searchable and sortable by business type, location and pickup versus delivery, showcases the wide variety of retail offerings available in Wisconsin, from clothing to coffee and from vintage vinyl records to decorative glass.

More than 360 shops are listed on the site, and businesses in any of Wisconsin’s participating Connect Communities and Main Street communities that are not yet included can visit the site to submit their listings.

The Wisconsin Main Street Program, affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center, launched in 1987 and now includes 34 active Main Street communities. The Connect Communities Program was created in 2013 to provide communities with some of the same benefits even if they don’t yet meet all the requirements for the Main Street Program. Wisconsin currently has 74 active Connect Communities.

Since the program’s inception in 1987, Wisconsin Main Street community projects have resulted in the creation of more than 2,800 new businesses and more than 15,000 net new jobs. In addition, more than $2.1 billion in public and private investment has occurred in Wisconsin Main Street communities.

The Main Street Marketplace portal is one of several initiatives WEDC has developed to help mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic on Wisconsin-based businesses. Learn more about these efforts and subscribe to updates on the Focus Forward page, and find information on available state, federal and other resources on WEDC’s COVID-19 response landing page.