WOMEN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESSES DRIVE DOWNTOWN GROWTH

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Shelley Nystrom started her soy wax candle business in earnest 14 years ago, crafting her wares in her kitchen and garage and selling them at craft fairs and farmers markets.

Eco-friendly candles were just beginning to take off, and people quickly grew excited about Nystrom’s products, leading her to rent a space in Oshkosh in which she eventually opened a small retail space for her company, Eco Candle Co., before opening a second store in Neenah.

When Nystrom grew tired of landlords raising her rent, she looked into buying a building in downtown Appleton, assuming she wouldn’t be able to afford it. She was pleasantly surprised to discover spaces were less expensive than she’d anticipated, and in 2010, with the help of a loan from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp., or WWBIC, she purchased a building on College Avenue.

Today, Nystrom runs her business, which includes the retail store, online sales and wholesale to 800 stores nationwide, in the heart of Appleton’s downtown. It’s a location she says offers distinct advantages, in which visitors attending a Fox Cities Performing Arts Center show at night can spend the day walking College Avenue, shopping and enjoying lunch, dinner and cocktails.

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