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New retail co-op open in downtown La Crosse

La Crosse, Wis. (WXOW) – After a year of planning, a new co-op retail business opened its doors Friday.

The Pearl Street Pop-Up is located at 200 4th Street South in down town La Crosse. Although it’s one singular space, eight small businesses will call it their home through the end of the year.

We were looking to replicate a model that’s been successful in the Viroqua area for the past four years,” Business and Income Developer for Couleecap Aaron Reimler. “They’ve had almost a 70% success rate with businesses actually staying in the shop that they pop into.”

Through a grant application to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Couleecap is able to provide this space to those businesses rent-free.

They’ve kind of come together in the interest of having something that’s collaborative and successful,” Reimler said.

It’s only short term, however. They will have to opportunity to sell in that location until the end of 2018. But some, like Meringue Bakery owner Jennifer Barney said that opportunity is a big advantage in the long run.

It’s so valuable to be able to know what is going to sell and what’s not going to sell,” Barney said. “It’s a safe place. Everybody here just wants to succeed.”

Since winning the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship last year, Barney has expressed a desire to move into her own down town shop. With a more permanent brick and mortar store on the radar, she said participating in a co-op like this could be a helpful step.

I hope this gives me lots of tools for the next phase of my business,” Barney said. “We are really hoping to be in a down town location by spring or summer.”

Downtown Mainstreet Inc hopes that more businesses will follow suit.

We really do believe that if we could create a model to break down into some smaller boutique size shops, that it could be very successful,” DMI’s Executive Director Robin Moses said.

Another stand-alone pop-up shop, Mercantile on Main, will also receive grant funding to operate a store front at 507 Main Street.

Sam Shilts

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