LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- A lot of changes in the works on the Northside from the development of the old Trane Company site to a new school to new businesses. Part of the reason is the North La Crosse Business Association working to boost the economic climate
Chad Johnson is a 15 year veteran of the candy business and is about to take over as owner of The Sweet Shop. The Chocolate store has been a northside staple since 1921.
"If you have a consistent product and you offer the same thing over and over again, especially a good homemade product like Chocolate, people appreciate that and want to come back," Johnson said.
Though Johnson can't just charge a penny for candy like previous owners, the feel of the shop from the booths to the cash register to, of course, the taste of the chocolate stood the test of time. Johnson says to succeed on the Northside you have to stick to your niche and have a small town feel.
President of the North La Crosse Business association, Randy Eddy Sr., agrees.
"We're small. We're not corporate American on the northside for the most part and with that personal attention, I think that's what keeps people coming back," Eddy Sr. Said.
To help more businesses succeed as the Sweet Shop has, the business association is stepping up; hiring staff and is in line to get some city dollars.
"You know the big part of what we've seen downtown is the partnership between the business community and city government, what that can do for growth and revitalization and this is just a start but I'm hoping that same kind of relationship can blossom on the northside," said Mayor Tim Kabat.
Johnson says in recent years he's noticed fewer empty store fronts on the block.
"I would say over the past five years, it's really picked up," Johnson said. "There's a lot of new people trying different things."
Some of the newer businesses on the Northside, like Root Down Yoga, are attracting a younger demographic which means more foot traffic for other merchants.
"It just brings new faces in the door," Johnson said. "I've noticed that, from a business standpoint, our clientele is getting older, so it's nice to see the new faces and get a few new people in the door because that is our future."
Johnson says while not all the shop owners have the advantage he does, taking over an already successful business, he thinks the revitalization happening on the northside makes the climate right for any dedicated business person to succeed.
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