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Three businesses named as finalists in Wisconsin’s Main Street Makeover Contest

October 26, 2023
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One lucky winner will receive a business makeover next spring

MADISON, WI. Oct. 26, 2023 – Three downtown businesses from around the state have been named as finalists in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) annual Main Street Makeover Contest. One grand prize winner will receive funding and assistance to upgrade their business.

Based on the popular reality show concept, established businesses located in one of the state’s 35 Wisconsin Main Street and 83 Connect Communities had the opportunity to nominate themselves for a “makeover” that will take place in the spring of 2024. The winning businesses will receive personalized technical assistance and up to $10,000 to implement recommended changes, which could include 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 three finalists are:

  • YB Urban?, Ellsworth
  • Link’s Martial Arts, Mayville
  • Café 529, Wausau

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 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:

  • YB Urban?, Ellsworth – YB Urban was started in 2013 by owner Angela Esler-Whelan as a home-based business, selling handcrafted soap and skin care products online and at local markets. When the local chamber of commerce launched a holiday pop-up shop in 2019, she applied and was accepted, and YB Urban the shop was born. The store currently offers over 50 different proprietary formulas of personal care items and cleaning products. Angela hopes that the makeover can help reconfigure the space to maximize retail opportunities, accommodate classes and events and draw attention to the business’s location in an emerging retail district near the Ellsworth Creamery.
  • Link’s Martial Arts, Mayville – Daniel Link started Link’s Martial Arts in Mayville more than 30 years ago. An assault on a police officer that led Daniel, then an active police officer, to pursue martial arts, ultimately leading to the creation of Link’s. While consistently offering high quality martial arts instruction, the studio has evolved to offer classes such as cardio kickboxing, Tae Kwon Do and Little Ninja classes as well as virtual classes during the pandemic. With the makeover, Daniel hopes to refresh the storefront and interior space to increase visibility and awareness and welcome a new generation of students into the studio.
  • Café 529, Wausau – New owner Tammy Bailey took over downtown Wausau’s longstanding La Prima deli just over a year ago, transitioning to the Café 529 brand. Her focus has been retaining the business’s reputation for high quality fresh ingredients and fresh bakery items while fostering an increased sense of community in the space. By addressing space constraints such as lighting and layout, she hopes to create new and expanded opportunities for remote work, community gatherings, educational seminars and even retail elements to draw customers to the space on a regular basis.

Now in its eighth 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 with a mini-makeover for interior upgrades to The Sow’s Ear in Verona. The 2022 recent winner of the full makeover was Fred’s Beds and More in Mayville with a mini-makeover for Plush Clothing in Racine. Most recently in 2023 three businesses received makeovers, including Art on the Town in Beaver Dam, Market Street Boutique in De Pere and Minocqua Popcorn & Puffs in Eagle River.

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