Tuesday, October 19, 2021

2017 Retail Challenge for Downtown announced

How about opening a retail shop in historic downtown Owatonna? The MainStreet Owatonna 2017 Retail Challenge is offering an incentive package worth up to nearly $25,000 for a winning retail business that will open in Owatonna’s historic downtown district by November 1, 2017.  Contestants will take their dreams and fill in the detail, to determine how they can open and operate a retail shop in downtown Owatonna.

Business concepts eligible for the competition are:

• New retail business

• Second or third retail satellite business from an existing location in another town 

• Significant expansion of a current downtown retail business that includes an added business concept

The MainStreet Retail Challenge 2017 is an entrepreneurial start-up competition. It’s designed to spur economic growth in Owatonna’s historic downtown area.   Our goals in creating the Retail Challenge were to recruit businesses that will enhance the business mix in downtown Owatonna and provide businesses a head start during the toughest year of operation (the first year).   

MainStreet Owatonna is a part of the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.  The winning proposal will receive an incentive package worth approximately $25,000, including up to $20,000 from the city of Owatonna Economic Development Authority, EDA.  The contestants will move through the process of developing a concept, business planning and pitching their ideas to a panel of judges.  

There are 3 phases to the Retail Challenge:

-Phase 1: Business Concept due July 17

-Phase 2: Business Plan due August 22

-Phase 3: Final Pitch week of August 28

In 2016, the first year of the challenge, the winning retail proposal was Straight River Rug Hooking (and Fiber Arts!).  It is a local retail store (instead of driving 50 miles), that is a source for fiber art supplies for rug hooking, applique, braiding rugs, wool felting, stitchery, knitting, crocheting and more.  Fiber artists now also have a place to gather and work on their projects or attend fiber art workshops offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  You may see out of town folks stopping in for supplies and then doing a little shopping downtown after a class or having a bite to eat at a local eatery.  Joyce Weise, who took a few minutes away from a class to talk to us, is the owner of Straight River Rug Hooking and Fiber Arts.  She said one of the best things about the challenge process, after winning the $25,000 in prizes, was working with the Owatonna Business Development Center and developing her business plans.  “It was a little work, but worth it!  I decided to open up a shop.”  The process of gathering the information and numbers gave me the confidence to move forward.  Joyce had help from her son in developing the presentation pitch and then he advised her to just talk and not worry, “you know the information and are passionate about it.”  

MainStreet is putting together a list of vacant storefronts for contestants to consider and tour in downtown Owatonna as they start organizing their ideas for a retail shop.

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times

Steele County Times
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

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