New resource:

Creative Uses for Downtown Buildings in Small Towns

click here for a copy of the working draft


Many downtowns no longer have the traditional department stores that once anchored “main street.”  Long gone are the days when Downtown was the one-stop shopping center for the community. Further, in today’s competitive retail market, many chains continue to bypass downtown in their site selection process.

However, many downtowns are coming alive with new economic activity.  These vibrant downtowns often have a few innovative businesses that are attracting people back to the heart of town.  These businesses often build on downtown’s sense of place and offer products and services not found in the big box stores.

This on-line resource provides examples of innovative downtown businesses in a variety of retail and service categories.  Brief case studies are provided that include the products sold, niche developed, market segments served, and synergy created downtown.

The site is searchable by type of business.  It is intended to:

1. provide existing and prospective entrepreneurs with innovative ideas for their downtowns
2. provide local economic development leaders with innovative ideas for their business expansion and recruitment efforts


Recently Added Businesses:

  • The SweetSpot
    The Sweet Spot is a full-service café serving locally-roasted fair-trade Ancora coffee, tea, and specialty drinks. Food items include a breakfast selection, fresh pastries from a local bakery (Water House Foods in Lake Mills, WI), soups and salads, premium sandwiches, wraps, paninis, desserts, local beer and wine.
  • The Rumpus Room
    Founders Marcia Miquelon and Jacob Mills teach circus arts, stage performances and create a vibrant community for kids and adults.
  • Tionesta Market Village
    This "mini Main Street" gives residents and visitors a place to shop and relax, and gives small retail businesses the opportunity to get started selling their products in a high-visibility and high-traffic location.
  • The Village
    The Village generates new business activity among residents, giving potential business owners a chance to experiment and learn at a small scale before growing larger.