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One city’s small business scene continues to thrive

VIROQUA, Wis (WXOW) – As shoppers gear up for the start of the holiday season, area stores hope you’ll shop locally. With competition from online retailers, local stores must find new ways to appeal to customers.

City and state officials gathered in Viroqua to tour and promote the importance of small businesses.  All ahead of a traditional holiday event known as Small Business Saturday.

When it comes to small businesses, store owners in Viroqua know how it’s done. This, of course, with plenty of help from their supportive city hall.

Co-Owner of Kickapoo Coffee, Allison Sandbeck, appreciates the effort the city puts in to help these businesses succeed.

“The city has been super supportive with all the programs they have for pop-up shops and funding that’s available. They’re always here as well checking in,” said Sandbeck.

The community support has poured in as well.

“It’s just been great because you know you build these sorts of things and you have a vision of them, but unless people aren’t walking through the door it’s really not going to fly,” said Sandbeck.

The city started a pop-up shop program five years ago, and since then, 27 stores have opened their doors with a 72% success rate. State officials say those numbers are very promising, and that they want to use Viroqua as an example for other communities.

Daily support for these shops is vital, but they are looking forward to their own upcoming holiday, Small Business Saturday.

CEO of WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation), Missy Hughes, says these shops can really benefit from this day. “Small Business Saturday is so critical because people can really come out and say ‘Hey we support you and what you’re doing for our community,'” said Hughes.

Co-owner of The Driftless Boutique, Kristina Olson, says their businesses are able to offer what many chain companies can’t, personal connections. “I think just offering that personal experience and getting to know people and really helping people shop for the holidays for themselves or for their family,” said Olson.

Many of the businesses welcome the new shops to town and say it doesn’t even feel like a competition. New businesses mean the local economy is thriving, which in turn, attracts people to the area.

Warren Sears

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