A challenge has been issued by a local business to raise funds for the continued rejuvenation of Swanton’s downtown area.
You-nique Bou-tique recently presented a check for $1,000 to the Swanton Historical Society to kick off fundraising to bring the Brailey Depot to town, and for the construction of a train viewing platform. The business donated a percentage of its sales.
You-nique Bou-tique was joined in initial support by its landlord, Justin Serr, who donated $750 towards the effort.
Both You-nique Bou-tique and Serr have challenged other local businesses to support this effort.
“We encourage other business owners to get creative and have fun, enrolling their employees, customers, and suppliers to support these efforts to bring more feet to Swanton’s Main Street,” said Julie Berry, boutique owner.
For the fledgling businesses on Main Street to thrive, pedestrian traffic is needed, and the creation of a visitor attraction could be an important step in that direction. Train and railroad enthusiasts are frequently seen along the tracks on Chestnut Street and Zeiter Way photographing the trains.
It is anticipated that the Depot and viewing platform on Chestnut Street would be a positive step in attracting visitors to Main Street.
Berry said she launched You-nique Bou-tique 11 years ago, drawing inspiration from the Victorian era through the 1920s.
“Even when selecting our four boutique locations, each store is based in a historical building between the 1880s through the 1920s, all rich with architectural details and history. Our fashions just feel at home,” Berry said. “So tying ourselves to Swanton’s Historical Society is a perfect fit, and with their efforts to bring more visitors to our Main Street benefits us and the entire community, with dollars being spent in retail, in restaurants, and other local establishments.”
Berry said the response from the Swanton community has been overwhelmingly supportive over the last two-and-a-half years, but there are still ups and downs in business consistency.
“As our customers know, Joyce Berry is the face of our Swanton location, and being a Swanton resident since opening she has turned our customers into her friends,” Berry said. “She goes over and beyond in providing outstanding customer service, and is such an asset to me personally on what the northwest Ohio woman is looking for in fashion.”
They now carry many other selections other than ruffles and lace, including casual and sportswear, because the local customer is looking for something unique yet wearable for everyday.
You-nique Bou-tique has also marketed outside of Swanton with Facebook advertising and fashion shows. “Joyce plans these shows with area organizations to get You-nique Bou-tique Fashions in front of women in surrounding communities. In doing so, Swanton is becoming more and more a destination,” Berry said.
Four retail shops are located on Main Street – You-nique Bou-tique, The Posh Pallet Boutique, Witchy Sisters, and Steals and Deals. The opening of Benfield Wines, Switchback Crossing Café at the former Elk’s building, and the anticipated opening of a bakery and coffee shop should provide a much-anticipated re-invigoration of Main Street.
Berry is a big proponent of that re-invigoration continuing.
“My personal desire is to see our historic downtown undergo a facade makeover to bring a cohesive elegance back to Main Street,” she said. “In addition, I’m intrigued with wall murals that invite personal photography for selfies, senior pictures, and other photo opportunities, bringing more visitors to our area. Because of Swanton’s train history and the proposed depot and viewing platform, the wall murals could be train-centric, adding more interest for train enthusiasts to visit Swanton.”
Swanton Historical Society President Neil Toeppe said he is supportive of the commitment of You-nique Bou-tique and Serr. He said Stapleton Insurance, the Walmart location in Wauseon, Bill Pilliod, and Patty and Company have already joined the fundraising effort.