ELLSWORTH -- Four businesses have decided to test a brick-and-mortar store on Broadway Street as a part of Ellsworth Chamber’s Pop-Up program.

Pop-Up Ellsworth is an initiative to get small businesses to try out a physical storefront without committing long term to the place. Through the program, the chamber covers the lease and the utilities until Dec. 29.

The new businesses give life to vacant storefronts, making it a win for both the businesses and for East End’s commercial district, chamber executives said.

Chamber Executive Support Team member Becky Beissel counted more than 20 vacant properties in downtown in this village of roughly 3,200.

“For a community this size that’s a lot,” Beissel said. “So we know that’s a problem, and so we really wanted to motivate property owners to fill these spaces.”

Some of the vacant spaces needed to be cleaned out and painted. These tasks were completed by volunteers.

One of the program’s goals is to prove that retail does work in Ellsworth and inspire other businesses to try out the Ellsworth market.

Etown Collective in Ellsworth is a nonprofit retail store that sells a mix of new and gently used items including home decor, books, clothing, antiques and furniture. The business "pops up" Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, as part of a revitalization project. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia
Etown Collective in Ellsworth is a nonprofit retail store that sells a mix of new and gently used items including home decor, books, clothing, antiques and furniture. The business "pops up" Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, as part of a revitalization project. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia

Saturday’s activities

The Pop-Up businesses include Merry Magpie’s Sign Shop, YB Urban?, Etown Collective and Rush River Orchard & Bakery. Some of the owners have been working out of their homes while others have been selling their products at other locations.

Although all of the stores — with the exception of Etown Collective — opened up on Friday, Oct. 11, the grand opening celebration is noon to 5 p.m. today. To kick off the party, a ribbon will be cut to symbolize the revitalization of the district.

“We’re hoping that as this continues, that this is just proof that it will work and then it won’t be so scary for them coming after us,” Beissel said.

The community is encouraged to check out the new shops, purchase some food from JD’s catering, grab some refreshments from Danny Dunn’s outdoor bar, and enjoy music by Little Wing and Christina Kowlachyk. The Pop-Up shops will be doing giveaways and will stay open until 6 p.m.

“It should be kind of a fun fun time,” Beissel said.

The process

Applications for the businesses were due in August. One program requirement was committing to being open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We felt that was important so they had the same hours, so we would have that collective pull, to pull shoppers down to the area,” Beissel said.

The chamber also looked for businesses that would commit to staying open throughout the entire length of the program. Once Dec. 29 rolls around, and if the owners feel like the experiment was a success they can take over the lease and stay in their location. If not, they can close up shop.

Beissel says her favorite part of the program was seeing the Pop-Up owners’ excitement when their shops opened.

“It’s something they’ve been wanting for so long and it’s finally here,” Beissel said.

Annabelle Meyer (left) and Emily Lofgren -- both seniors -- clean storefront windows on East End as a part of the annual Ellsworth High School Day of Service. The vacant storefront will be a part of Pop-up Ellsworth, an Ellsworth chamber initiative. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia
Annabelle Meyer (left) and Emily Lofgren -- both seniors -- clean storefront windows on East End as a part of the annual Ellsworth High School Day of Service. The vacant storefront will be a part of Pop-up Ellsworth, an Ellsworth chamber initiative. Ashley Rezachek/RiverTown Multimedia

Who is selling what

Merry Magpie’s Sign Shop

227 N. Broadway St.

Handmade signs, artwork and wood flowers

Rush River Orchard & Bakery

227 N. Broadway St.

Fresh baked goods, canned jellies, applesauce and craft items

YB Urban?

243 N. Broadway St.

Natural soaps, lotions and skincare products

Etown Collective

259 N. Broadway St.

New items and donated items with the proceeds going towards community projects



Watch for more information about the shops in an upcoming publication.