Four small business owners with hopes to expand will each make a pitch at Wheeling Heritage’s Show of Hands event on Jan. 24. The event, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Artisan Center, 1400 Main Street, invites attendees to vote for the project they feel is the most worthwhile. The winning presenter will leave with about $4,000 for his or her business expansion. Join us to learn more about the projects and to vote for the business you think should receive the award.
Here are the upcoming Show of Hands presenters:
The Empress Emporium
The business, which had been located in Centre Market, is relocating to 700 Main Street. Its owner, Cindy Bonfini-Hotlosz, would like to expand to offer a sit-down tea service. Bonfini-Hotlosz notes that the new storefront in North Wheeling is at the intersection of National Road and Main Street, an iconic location and one that would be great for a new shop. “If successful, we would add a small kitchen and a counter to offer sweet and savory snacks and salads,” she said.
Tito’s Sloppy Doggs
The restaurant, located at 1068 Market Street, has become a lunch staple for many Downtown Wheeling regulars. Now, the owners would like to expand with a food truck. “Customers feel engaged in city life when they purchase from a food truck,” said Chris Burress, Tito’s owner. “Food trucks bring new food choices to customers where lunch options are limited, and by parking near small retail establishments, a food truck can help these businesses gain new customers.”
Zeb’s Barky Bites
A family-owned dog treat company, Zeb’s is named after the nine-year-old who had the idea to create the fresh, preservative-free treats. “Zeb’s Barky Bites is outgrowing the capacity of our home kitchen,” said owner Betsy Helmick, who explained the company will soon open in the upper Centre Market house, as well as buy new equipment. “This will enable us to increase our production and give us space to continue to develop new offerings for cats and dogs,” she said.
With Ziklag, a recently opened shop in Centre Market, owner Jessica Clark-McDowell has created a place where local artisans can easily sell their work – without the upfront costs that come along with their own storefront. “We’ve already outgrown our space in just a few short months, and we’ve had to cut off artist intake,” she explained. “We would like to use local artisans – Renew Refinishing and Restoration – to build tables, fixtures and displays that can hold the specialty items in a more organized way, so we can fit more work in the store,” she said.
Show of Hands attendees pay $5 at the door for a ballot, and the money goes back to the event’s winner. Orrick, the program’s corporate sponsor, donates $1,000 for each event. The Friends of Show of Hands, which consists of community members and business owners, also contribute to each event. In 2016, Show of Hands was awarded $4,000 from the Governor’s Innovation Awards.