A yarn store and coffee shop in downtown Verona will get a small facelift this summer.

The Sow’s Ear, which has been at 125 S. Main St. for the past 21 years, won the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s inaugural Main Street Mini-Makeover contest on April 5.

WEDC will provide assistance to implement changes that could include upgrades to paint, merchandising displays or signage.

The state-funded corporation launched the mini-makeover concept this year as a spin-off of its Main Street Makeover contest. The contest helps businesses that want to update their look and fund renovations in anticipation of welcoming customers back this summer, an April 5 news release from WEDC said.

As the team at Sow’s Ear look to reopen its dining areas again post-COVID-19, they hope to take advantage of the makeover program to offer a fresh, clean look while improving the customer experience for yarn shoppers and cafe visitors alike, the release states.

“The goal of the makeover is to update the space and reflect the quality products and services offered by the shop,” the release states.

The full makeover contest generally requires a complete remodel and has substantial costs, while the mini-makeover will provide a more simple refresh of the business’ marketing, the release states.

“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,” CEO of WEDC Missy Hughes said in the release. “Helping businesses refresh and update their look is one of the ways WEDC can help keep our downtowns vibrant.”

Since the Sow’s Ear was founded by Melissa Brown and Amy Armstrong in 2000, the shop has transitioned to new ownership and expanded both its physical space and its product offerings. In 2007, the mother/daughter duo of Melissa Helgesen and Debra Errington bought the space.

A team made up of WEDC staff and professionals from Retailworks Inc., a Milwaukee-based interior commercial design firm, will work closely with the staff 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,” Verona Area Chamber of Commerce tourism coordinator Halley Jones said in the release. “During the past year, they have worked really hard to serve their customers by adding more retail products to their space on Main Street.”

Jones said the mini-makeover program can assist them in integrating their additional product offerings into their cafe as they move to fully reopen.

The contest is designed to raise awareness of the Wisconsin Main Street Program and Connect Communities Program, two initiatives overseen by WEDC.

“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,” Hughes said.

Neal Patten can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.

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