By Shereen Siewert

More than 230 “Main Street” businesses statewide, including 18 in Wausau, are featured in a new online retail portal that connects shoppers with locally-owned businesses.

The website, www.mainstreetwi.com, provides a searchable database of shops that offer online sales, curbside pickup and shipping, according to a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation news release issued Tuesday.

Visitors can choose to search by geography or by product category.

WEDC CEO Missy Hughes said local, small businesses have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown.

“This is a great opportunity to help sustain local and small businesses in our downtown districts throughout Wisconsin,” Hughes said.

According to the WEDC many small businesses affected by the pandemic have had difficulty letting customers know their favorite products are still available online, while buyers who have sought alternatives to chain stores and major online retailers haven’t always known where to look. The Main Street Marketplace aims to help businesses and consumers make these connections while also showcasing the wide variety of retail offerings available in Wisconsin—from clothing to coffee and from vintage vinyl records to decorative glass.

The shops listed offer a wide array of goods—specialty food, apparel, home goods, toys, gifts and more. In Wausau, the offerings include Janke Book Store, Inner Sleeve Records and CDs, Second Peek Boutique, Nicole’s Boutique, Katzenbarkers and October Guitars, among others.

To be listed, shops must be located in one of the 34 Wisconsin Main Street communities. Additional offerings from local businesses in Connect Communities member communities will be added in the future. A map of the Main Street communities is available here.

Wisconsin Main Street is a community development program administered by WEDC that targets Wisconsin’s historic commercial districts. WEDC provides technical support and training to the 34 Main Street communities to help them revitalize their business districts based on guidelines developed by the National Main Street Center.

Since the program’s inception in 1987, Wisconsin Main Street community projects have resulted in the creation of more than 2,800 new businesses and more than 15,000 net new jobs. In addition, more than $2.1 billion in public and private investment has occurred in Wisconsin Main Street communities.

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