MADISON – Local officials and business representatives will host events recognizing the critical role downtown business districts play in Wisconsin’s economy as part of Wisconsin Main Street Days through July 10. In central Wisconsin, Marshfield and Wausau have been recognized.
In lieu of an in-person awards ceremony bringing people together in one place around the state, smaller groups will gather for award presentations and photo opportunities (and in some cases virtual events) in 29 communities around the state to celebrate the success of the Wisconsin Main Street and Connect Communities programs, which provide technical support and training for organizations dedicated to downtown or commercial corridor revitalization activities. Events will include award presentations, new program announcements and local proclamations in honor of Main Street Days.
“Main Street Day recognizes the importance of downtowns in all our cities and towns, as well as the Main Street and Connect Communities programs that help them grow,” said Gov. Tony Evers, who issued a proclamation announcing Main Street Days, in a news release. “It reflects our commitment to all our Wisconsin communities, which is why we’ll be honoring them throughout the state this week.”
2020 Main Street Days Participating Community Achievements and Recognitions (for central Wisconsin):
Recognized for their new interior is Uptown Coffee Co., winning the Best Interior Renovation for Under $50,000 award.
When a 3,000-square-foot antique store closed its doors in this 1887 former hardware store, Chris and Erin Howard saw an opportunity. The building’s main challenge was that the space was too large for most tenants—but original elements such as tin ceilings, columns, trim and hardwood floors were intact.
They divided the space into two 1,500-square-foot spaces which required upgraded HVAC and electrical for each. The rear space was reconfigured to serve both sides with bathrooms, a shared lounge and an accessible entrance. They then recruited John and Vicki Tracy of Uptown Coffee into one half, allowing them to renovate as long as the original elements remained with their 130-year-old nicks and patina. A 1960’s clock belonging to Vicki’s grandfather served as inspiration for the midcentury design of everything from their logo and signage to the sputnik chandeliers, espresso bar, lounge chairs, patterned walls and seating.
Wausau is this year’s recipient of the Best Image Campaign award for the I Am Wausau initiative.
Feeling angry and upset after a racially motivated attack near downtown Wausau, local photographer Tim Gutknecht sought to catalyze these feelings to make change and have an impact. He reached out to the Wausau River District with an idea, an image campaign that would showcase Wausau’s diversity. Working with One Wausau as well as the Wausau River District to come up with a mission, photo layout, call for participants, location and marketing plan, Gutknecht was the mastermind behind the project, volunteering his time for planning, photography, editing, printing and more. Today, the “I Am Wausau” campaign has reached more than 40,000 people, increasing awareness of Wausau’s diversity and initiating important conversations on diversity.
In addition, Wausau’s Janke Book Store was named Best Business Success Story.
Janke Book Store, the oldest bookstore in Wisconsin, celebrated 100 years in business in 2019. While many bookstores large and small have closed over the years, Janke’s remains a flagship in downtown Wausau. In 1919, original owners Carl Janke and Reno Kurth purchased a downtown Wausau property to open Janke-Kurth Book Store. In 1948, Janke became sole owner, and the store has been passed down in the Janke family for four generations. Over the years, the store has occupied four different downtown storefronts on the same city block, and today attracts customers seeking not only books, but also stationery, gifts and a large specialty card collection, or coming to attend author signings and other literary events. The store is also known for its unique window displays, making it an essential destination for holiday shoppers of all ages.