Vacant downtown storefronts get makeover for Christmas

Posted at 6:58 PM, Dec 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-20 19:58:56-05

There are plenty of vacant retail storefronts across Milwaukee but the city is hoping to dress them up for Christmas and help everyone along the way. 

Milwaukee Downtown BID #21 and Retailworks Inc. came together to create five Christmas themed displays in vacant storefront windows. The groups selected five local businesses with more of an online presence to help them see what their product could look like in a brick and mortar storefront and get their names seen more. 

"We get a chance to showcase them in a brick & mortar location as well as in an online store presence as well," said Erica Chang with Milwaukee Downtown BID #21.

"It's an additional opportunity to imagine what their products could look like in a storefront," said Matt Dorner with Milwaukee Downtown BID #21. "They get a little taste of what that would look like during the holiday season."

The hope is these business owners will see the potential in the vacant buildings and think of taking up a lease, whether it's the businesses they're working with now, or other business owners who see the potential in the empty buildings. 

"By adorning these windows with special displays, it draws attention to the fact that they are available for lease," Chang said. 

But the property owners and businesses being showcased are just the tip of the iceberg. The group says 90 percent of surrounding businesses could see a boost as a result of the window displays.

That could become more permanent if more businesses move into these spaces. 

"Imagine walking down the street where all the windows are beautiful," said Allie Jeka with Retailworks Inc. "It makes you want to be there and help all the businesses there. If you improve the storefronts or facades or window displays, the surrounding businesses will all benefit too."

The displays aren't just billboards for the companies. Retailworks worked with the companies to create attractive, festive displays. They want it to attract as many people as possible and next year, they hope to increase the number of displays. 

"We love Milwaukee," Jeka said. "We love seeing main streets and local businesses thrive so we were happy to help with it."

There are six locations to see: 

  • Kessler's Diamonds - Watts Building, 450 E. Mason Street
  • The Mini Classy - Iron Block Building, 205 E. Wisconsin Avenue
  • Linda Marcus Design - Iron Block Building, 205 E. Wisconsin Avenue
  • Wander & Co., Colby Abbot Building, 759 N. Milwaukee Street
  • Fyxation Bicycle, Germania Building, 135 W. Wells Street
  • Milwaukee BID #21, 759 N. Water Street