Northleaf Winery is one of a handful of Milton businesses that has bought television commercials to draw local customers.


The three commercials run in succession, hitting local television viewers with an overload of Milton destinations.

Northleaf Winery, Goodrich Antiques and Red Rooster have partnered on a trio of ads on Charter Media for the past eight years.

They aren’t the only local businesses that are reaching into consumers’ living rooms. Shumway Appliance and Jake’s Junction Pub, among others, also have run TV commercials in southern Wisconsin, said Dani Stivarius, Milton Area Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Such a marketing effort might seem unusually assertive in a city of 5,500 people. But to these Milton business owners, the effort has paid off.

“We hear from people that they saw it and that’s why they’re here,” Northleaf Winery co-owner Gail Nordlof said.

As she spoke, customers squeezed around the bar, sipping wine on a weekend afternoon.

Most of the tables on the room’s perimeter had “reserved” signs.

The winery draws people from surrounding big cities—Madison, Milwaukee, even Chicago. Its television commercials are probably the most effective form of advertising, Nordlof said.

A winery makes sense as a tourist destination, especially with a nearby counterpart, Timber Hill Winery, to help draw wine connoisseurs.

A home goods store or an antique shop is a bit less conventional.

But Terry Williamson, co-owner of Goodrich Antiques, said the ads are worth the money. Many customers have told her they heard about her business from the comfort of their own couches.

Running the Goodrich Antiques, Northleaf and Red Rooster commercials back-to-back-to-back is helpful because it secures a better price and spreads the message to different audiences, Williamson said.

“We want people to know that when you come to Milton, there’s more than one place to go,” she said. “Like, ‘Oh, two completely different shops but both unique in their own way, and then when we get done shopping, we can go to the winery.’ It makes a bigger impact than just one person all by themselves.”

The businesses have full control over the final product. They also can choose which channels, regions and times they want their ads to appear.

Williamson said she, Nordlof and Red Rooster owner Tami Dosch choose different channels to maximize their marketing reach.

The chamber runs its own commercial, promoting Milton as a whole. The city’s tourism development committee will meet later this week and decide whether to continue doing television advertising this year.

Williamson said the advertisements are important for her success. Goodrich Antiques’ location—tucked inside an old Milton College building in a residential neighborhood—doesn’t lend itself to much foot traffic, she said.

But Goodrich Antiques benefits from the impulse stops of people who were originally interested in Northleaf or Red Rooster.

Some antiques enthusiasts are willing to go out of their way to find the place once they discover it, she said.

“People are Googling us and seeking us out. They aren’t driving by us, obviously,” Williamson said.

“If they were driving by, we’d get nobody because we’re up here in the middle of nowhere. We rely on those people who find us because it’s their hobby.”

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