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WEDC & Ellsworth Celebrate Main Street Makeover Winner

May 15, 2024
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Image of ribbon cutting ceremony at YB Urban? after Main Street Makeover.

Entrepreneur’s YB Urban? shop has new look, bright future; dreams fulfilled

MADISON, WI. MAY 15, 2024 – A little over a decade ago, Angie Whelan, her husband and their two children moved from Las Vegas to the town of El Paso in Pierce County in search of – literally — greener pastures.

While her husband fulfilled his dream of farming in a lush green valley, Whelan started her own business selling aromatherapy and wellness products. In recognition of the small rural community where they’d settled, she dubbed the new business YB Urban? Initially, it was home-based, but in 2019, Whelan opened a store in Ellsworth.

As her business thrived, Whelan found that her storefront wasn’t as appealing as it could be.

It lacked good signage to attract motorists on the way to the popular Ellsworth Creamery and other nearby destinations. When people did stop and step inside, the floor plan wasn’t ideal either and there was no space to host classes that Whelan desired.

With help from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s downtown development staff and a team of interior designers from Milwaukee-based Retailworks Inc., all that will change today as YB Urban? celebrates its reopening as the winner of WEDC’s ninth annual Main Street Makeover Contest.

Whelan couldn’t be more pleased and grateful.

“Like so many small businesses, we make just enough money to keep our doors open, offer the products our customers love, and make a modest living,” she said. “Extra money for large projects just doesn’t happen, so having the strength of the WEDC behind us, and having them believe in us, is priceless.”

Whelan continued, “We have been so blessed to have the support of our family, friends, and community members throughout this process, our local partners in Franklin Building, as well as the professionals at Retailworks guiding us.”

Image of interior space of YB Urban?

A stunning transformation of the interior space after winning the Main Street Makeover Contest.

Improvements include a brighter, more vibrant storefront and signage aimed at attracting more foot traffic. The new open-concept interior is more inviting, and allows room for classes, workshops, DIY experiences and wellness education opportunities.

The improved floorplan “is much more versatile, allowing us to expand our sustainable products and host classes and events that would be beneficial to the wellness of our community,” Whelan said.

The YB Urban? makeover took months of planning and hard work including the finishing touches in the last 24 hours preceding the ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning. Customers will note dramatic changes in the space, including improved product display areas, additional signage and imagery illustrating the origin and use of unique product lines, and a brighter and more open shopping experience.

“This is another amazing example of what we do at WEDC, working to improve Wisconsin’s economy with businesses large and small, especially Main Street retailers so vital to the success of communities throughout the state,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO.

“A vibrant downtown is critical to the overall economic health of a community and recognizing and assisting the small businesses that make these districts thrive is a key part of how we support these districts,” Hughes said.

Errin Welty, senior director of WEDC Downtown Development programs, noted that in the past year, participating communities each welcomed an average of seven new downtown businesses and over $1 million in private investment and coordinated nearly 1,000 volunteer hours dedicated to enhancing downtown areas.

Kim Beebe, Executive Director of the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce, was among those applauding the results.

“There’s no business more deserving of this opportunity than YB Urban? Being a small business owner takes courage, and for Angie, it required more than most,” Beebe said. “Not only did she take on an aging and historic building in need of TLC, but also took a chance on a part of downtown that also needs care and attention. This project is an example of how WEDC’s Main Street Makeover program can breathe new life into a business and a community.”

YBUrban? was eligible for the makeover as a business in one of Wisconsin’s 90 Connect Communities. The contest is designed to raise awareness of the downtown revitalization programs offered in the state, which also includes the Wisconsin Main Street Program. Both program provides support and training for communities and organizations dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts, also offering services and tools for businesses and property owners within these districts. The Makeover program is just one example of many programs designed to foster business and community engagement and showcase the businesses that bring life to downtown districts.

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