The Sow’s Ear to receive merchandising makeover with help from WEDC

MADISON, WI. APRIL 5, 2021 – The Sow’s Ear, a yarn and coffee shop in downtown Verona, has been named the winner in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) inaugural Main Street Mini-Makeover contest.

An outgrowth of the popular Main Street Makeover contest, the Mini-Makeover was designed specifically to benefit retailers who want a new look in anticipation of welcoming customers back this summer. The larger makeover contest generally requires a full-scale remodel and has substantial costs, while the mini-makeover will provide a simpler merchandising refresh.

“For every business able and willing to undertake the commitment of a full makeover, there are many that would benefit equally from a simpler approach,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “Helping businesses refresh and update their look is one of the ways WEDC can help keep our downtowns vibrant.”

As the winner of the mini-makeover, the Sow’s Ear will receive personalized technical design and marketing guidance as well as assistance to implement changes identified in the makeover process, which could include upgrades to paint, merchandising displays or other marketing elements such as signage. The goal of the makeover is to update the space and reflect the quality products and services offered by the shop.

A team made up of WEDC staff and professionals from Retailworks Inc., a Milwaukee-based interior commercial design firm, will work closely with the team at the Sow’s Ear over the next few months to develop the shop’s new look. The improvements will be made during a 24-hour makeover event later this summer.

“The Sow’s Ear is an anchor to our downtown business district. During the past year, they have worked really hard to serve their customers by adding more retail products to their space on Main Street,” said Halley Jones of the Verona Area Chamber of Commerce. She added; “The mini-makeover program can assist them in integrating their additional product offerings into their cafe as they move to fully reopen. I can’t wait to see the final product.”

Since the Sow’s Ear opened in 2000, the shop has transitioned to new ownership and expanded both its physical space and its product offerings to accommodate a growing customer base.

During the pandemic, the shop converted its indoor dining area into the Sow’s Ear Pantry, featuring locally sourced and crafted food items and artisan goods, and this new feature gained popularity. As the shop looks to reopen dining areas again post-COVID, they hope to take advantage of the makeover program to offer a fresh, clean look while improving the customer experience for shoppers and café visitors alike.

The contest is designed to raise awareness of the Wisconsin Main Street Program and Connect Communities Program, which are the two downtown revitalization initiatives overseen by WEDC. The programs provide support and training for communities and organizations dedicated to downtown revitalization efforts. Verona has been a member of the Connect Communities Program since 2 015. The makeover programs are just one example of how WEDC and its partner community organizations foster business and community engagement and showcase the businesses that bring life to downtown districts.

“This unique contest not only provides additional support and services to the winning business, but it also highlights the benefits of the Wisconsin Main Street Program, which has resulted in the creation of more than 2,800 new businesses and 15,000 new jobs in Wisconsin since its inception in 1987,” Hughes said. “A vibrant downtown is critical to the overall economic health of a community, and recognizing and assisting the small businesses that make these districts thrive is key.”