Janesville65.3°

Raven's Wish joins other unique businesses in downtown Janesville

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 22, 2011
— Alicia Reid wanted more impulse traffic for her business.

She wanted customers who would be captured by something in her store windows—a piece of art, the sight of a friendly dog napping in the sunlight or the colors of a scarf or necklace.


After considering her options and talking to her customers, Reid picked downtown Janesville.


Earlier this summer Reid moved her business, formerly called Raven's Wish Art and Framing from a strip mall on Liberty Lane behind the Pontiac Convention Center. The new business, Raven's Wish Gallery at 101 W. Milwaukee St. will offer the same services but give her more and better space to display artists' works.


"In the location where I was I got zilch drive-by traffic," Reid said. "I wanted a place that would entice people to come in and look at the art."


Currently, her business is about 80 percent framing and 20 percent art. She'd like that to be closer to 60-40.


Initially, she wasn't convinced that downtown would be right for her.


"I talked to my customers about it," Reid said. "I asked them how often they shopped downtown and their answers ranged widely."


Some said they never went downtown—but then would amend their answers, saying, "Well, I do go to the farmers market," or "I go downtown to get my hair done."


Reid's location is about two blocks away from the Artisan Locale Gallery on Main Street; less than a block The Glass Garden, a well-established stained glass supply and sales store; and right next to the Rumor Style Lounge.


Rumor is actually home to three businesses: NYZ Desingz, Hair Addiction and ElleBell's Boutique.


The three owners, Naomi Dutcher, Kezia Haffery and Lindsey Teirney, each run their own business, but help each other out—and the businesses complement each other.


The boutique features women's clothing from extra small to 3X, belts, handbags and accessories along with a small collection of charmingly quirky baby clothes.


Women come in to get their hair or makeup done, and end up browsing through the clothing. The owners hope to entice a nail artist to the location.


The lounge at the back is a good spot for a bridesmaid party or other gatherings where beauty is on the agenda.


Tierney loves the community feeling of the downtown businesses, and she's proud to have her boutique in an historic setting.


Both the Style Lounge and Raven's Wish benefit from casual traffic.


Gale Price, Janesville's manager of building and development services, said businesses with "destination use" are a good fit for historic downtowns.


Originality is crucial, too.


"It has to be something unique," Price said.


Downtown locations have an additional advantage.


"Per square foot, rent is going to be cheaper in the downtown," Price said.


Parking, of course, is an issue. Although people are willing to walk across large lots to get to the mall or a big box store, they expect to be able to park directly outside a downtown business.


Even though Raven's Wish is kitty-corner from a city lot offering free parking, a few people have commented that they weren't able to park outside her door.


As the downtown changes, those attitudes might change, too.


Reid and other business owners think they have something special to offer.


"I think it's going to be a good deal," Reid said of her new location.



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