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Six businesses named finalists in Wisconsin’s Main Street Makeover Contest

October 20, 2022
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Two lucky winners will receive a business makeover this spring

MADISON, WI. Oct. 17, 2022 – Six Main Street businesses from around the state have been named as finalists in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) annual Main Street Makeover Contest. Two of the six will receive funding and assistance to upgrade their storefronts next year.

Based on the popular reality show concept, established businesses located in any of the state’s 34 Wisconsin Main Street and 82 Connect Communities were able to nominate themselves for a makeover that will take place next spring. The winning businesses will receive personalized technical assistance and up to $10,000 for interior and exterior design improvements or personalized assistance to boost the business’s image and operations.

Finalists were selected based on their business track record, the vision for their business, and the potential for the makeover to have a positive impact on their downtown district.

The six finalists are:

  • Art on the Town, Beaver Dam
  • Market Street Boutique, De Pere
  • The Hiker Box, Eagle River
  • Minocqua Popcorn & Puffs, Eagle River
  • Smith’s Bikes, La Crosse
  • Shoppes of Port Washington, Port Washington

The winner will be announced in early November. The winning businesses will spend several months working with Main Street staff and consultants from RetailWorks, Inc. a Milwaukee-based interior design firm, on a renovation plan, followed by a 24- or 48-hour transformation event in the spring.

The new and improved business spaces will be formally unveiled during a public celebration featuring state and local officials. All eligible businesses that submitted applications for the competition will receive technical assistance from the Main Street team to help achieve their goals and enhance their business.

Here are details on the finalists:

  • Art on the Town, Beaver Dam – Owner Kris Schumacher-Rasmussen moved her DIY art studio out of her home and into a downtown storefront in late 2019, transitioning almost immediately into a curbside service business. Since reopening to in-store traffic, the studio has moved beyond pottery painting to include wheel throwing classes, canvas and board painting and many curated classes. These expanded services create the need for enhanced marketing and a revamped storefront and classroom space that accommodates the wide variety of audiences they serve while maintaining an inspirational and artistic aesthetic.
  • Market Street Boutique, De Pere – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, owner Maggie Simmons transitioned from lawyer to stay-at-home mom to boutique owner. Originally working with her stepmother on her online boutique, Maggie decided to open a bricks-and-mortar boutique in her hometown of De Pere. Her goals for the makeover are to expand her marketing reach and create a space within the store for her popular permanent jewelry business line.
  • The Hiker Box, Eagle River – After eight years of continued growth, owners Tom and Jessica Allen are expanding their downtown Eagle River business by adding a second location. The additional space will accommodate gear and specialty outdoor goods, making more space to better display the clothing and lifestyle goods in their original storefront. While the expansion creates numerous opportunities for the business, they are hoping to win the makeover to ensure that both locations are used to their fullest potential, catering to the Northwoods outdoors enthusiast.
  • Minocqua Popcorn & Puffs, Eagle River – The second location of this popular Minocqua-based snack shop opened in Eagle River in 2019. The business hopes to benefit from the makeover by improving the curb appeal and storefront visibilities to attract more foot traffic to the business. This makeover will complement the launch of an online website to allow the shop to partner with area organizations on fundraising programs.
  • Smith’s Bike Shop, La Crosse – Smith’s Bikes has been a staple of the La Crosse biking scene since 1895, selling and servicing bikes, accessories, and parts. As a long-standing business in the community, Smith’s has customers of all ages and backgrounds. The business is continually looking to grow and evolve as the market changes but adding e-bikes and rentals while effectively displaying existing road and gravel bikes is a challenge. The business aspires to be a bicycle-friendly business and make use of their store, warehouse and parking lot to make themselves a go-to spot for the biking community.
  • Shoppes of Port Washington, Port Washington – As the new owner of the Shoppes of Port Washington, Dana Miller is hoping to win the makeover to help take the business to the next level. Started in 2015, the business features goods from 45 local crafters and vendors with a waiting list from other interested entrepreneurs. After nearly a decade, the shop needs a refresh to enhance its curb appeal and showcase their unique offerings in a more attractive way for an overall improved customer experience.

Now in its seventh year, the Main Street Makeover Contest is an initiative of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, a comprehensive revitalization program overseen by WEDC and designed to promote the historic and economic redevelopment of traditional business districts in Wisconsin. The contest is designed to raise awareness of the Wisconsin Main Street Program and Connect Communities Program, which are the two downtown revitalization initiatives overseen by WEDC. The programs provide support and training for communities and organizations dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts. The Makeover programs are just one example of many programs designed to foster business and community engagement and showcase the businesses that bring life to downtown districts.

The inaugural 2018 Main Street Makeover winner was Annie’s Fountain City Café in downtown Fond du Lac. The 2019 Makeover winner was Anthony’s 511 Barbershop in downtown Watertown. In 2020 Ted’s Pizza Palace in downtown Menomonie received a makeover for the restaurant’s 50th anniversary, and the 2021 winner was mainstay retailer Moore’s on Main in Ashland. The most recent winner of the full makeover was Fred’s Beds and More in Mayville. The newer Mini-Makeover program is in its third year, and previously gave interior upgrades to The Sow’s Ear in Verona and Plush Clothing in Racine.

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