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Two Wisconsin retailers welcome customers back with style

July 28, 2021
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WEDC makeover winners unveiled new looks in June

New looks should pay off for two Wisconsin businesses that went through retail makeovers in June with help from WEDC and a team of professionals from Milwaukee-based Retailworks.

“It’s amazing how often small changes cause people to take notice and try out a business for the first time,” says Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC.

Expert advice from WEDC’s Main Street Makeover design partner, RetailWorks

Hughes and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes were on hand to celebrate the grand reopening of Moores On Main, a family-owned clothing store in downtown Ashland and winner of WEDC’s sixth annual Main Street Makeover Contest.

Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes, the Moore family and others
gather to cut a ribbon marking the reopening of the improved Moores On Main in downtown Ashland.

“Small businesses like Moores On Main are key drivers of Wisconsin’s economy,” said Lt. Governor Barnes, who attended the store’s ribbon cutting with Hughes. “These design improvements won’t just benefit Moores On Main but will also support other downtown businesses that serve the customers the shop brings in.”

For the first time, WEDC also offered a Main Street Mini-Makeover Contest for businesses that wanted to freshen up their look without investing in a full remodel.

The Sow’s Ear yarn and coffee shop in Verona was the winner of the mini-makeover. An anchor in downtown Verona for more than 20 years, the business was given a new look in a 24-hour reality TV–style makeover that cost less than $5,000.


A new color scheme, clear signage and merchandising
freshen up the look of the Sow’s Ear in Verona.

During the pandemic, the shop had converted its indoor dining area into the Sow’s Ear Pantry, featuring locally sourced and crafted food items and artisan goods. As the shop welcomed customers back for indoor dining, the staff wanted to make improvements to help customers discover everything the store offers. Included in the makeover are updated color schemes, enhanced merchandising of Sow’s Ear Pantry items, improved sales area for the yarn and crafting department, coordinated and enhanced signage highlighting new and unique items, wayfinding and directional signage, and many other small touches to welcome customers into the space.

“We’re so grateful for the program, which provided the incentive we needed to make the decision to update our space,” said Sow’s Ear Manager Jen Davis. “The team provided so many great ideas for us to consider that will improve the customer experience.”

In Ashland, Moores On Main is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, having evolved from an 800-square-foot surplus store to a second-generation, full-service clothing store offering clothing, shoes and accessories for the whole family.

“WEDC is excited to help the Moore family welcome new generations to their shop, which has really become a regional destination,” says Hughes. “Unique small businesses, like Moores On Main, are a big part of what makes Wisconsin communities vibrant.”

WEDC’s Wisconsin Main Street staff and a team from Retailworks Inc. began working with the Moores and their team early in 2021 to design improvements to welcome customers, improve the browsing and checkout experience, and ensure the space portrays the same image of quality that the store offers to customers.

In addition to design and marketing assistance from WEDC, the business received $10,000 toward making its owners’ vision a reality.

The City of Ashland also participated in the makeover, providing $20,000 toward exterior improvements on the property, including brick repair, through its Downtown Building Improvement Grant Program.

“We want to extend a huge thank you,” says Steve Moore, who owns Moores On Main with his wife, Wendy, who adds: “We are so appreciative to our family, friends, amazing staff, our many customers, the city, the state and the entire community who have supported us in the past and present, especially during our renovation. We look forward to continuing to serve you here on Historic Main Street at Moores On Main.”

While the planning process took months, the bulk of the work occurred in 48 hours, with the business reopening to unveil its new look following a ribbon cutting on June 16.

Changes include fully renovated footwear and women’s wear departments, newly exposed tin ceilings, updated flooring, new lighting, paint, signage, updated and accessible fitting rooms, coordinated storefront merchandising and enhanced checkout counters.

The makeover contests are designed to raise awareness of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, WEDC’s signature downtown revitalization initiative. The program provides support and training for communities and organizations dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts and provides services and tools for businesses and property owners within these districts. The makeover program is just one example of many initiatives designed to foster business and community engagement and showcase the businesses that bring life to downtown districts.

The Wisconsin Main Street Program has resulted in the creation of more than 2,800 new businesses and 15,000 new jobs in Wisconsin since its inception in 1987.

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