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Main Street: Season 1 WinnerWabash, IN




In early 2016, Deluxe received nearly 10,000 nominations from coast to coast, as we sought one special small town that needed a boost. We narrowed that group down to two finalists for the Small Business Revolution – Main Street.

After more than 180,000 votes, Wabash was the winner! The transformation was captured in an original eight-episode series telling the story of the inspiring people we met and the challenges they faced. Take a look below at how it all started, and learn more about the town of Wabash and the people you’ll see in the show!

About the Town

While the origination of Wabash dates back even earlier, it was 1880 when the town secured a unique place in history by becoming the first electrically lit city in the world. Wabash is determined to shine brighter than ever.

This small northern Indiana town, about 85 miles from Indianapolis, is named for the river that runs through the county. The historic small town certainly hasn’t lost its spark, but it has taken a hit from urban sprawl, which has drawn businesses and workers out of downtown. Meanwhile, a diminishing industrial base has significantly altered the local economy.

But with each consecutive challenge, Wabash, which is home to about 11,000 residents, has shown incredible resiliency – in fact, the passionate members of its close-knit community have only grown closer, and they can offer inspiration for small businesses everywhere who are working to navigate similar changes.

“We had a flood a couple years ago in the store, and business owners came out at midnight in their pajamas in January, freezing cold, to help us bail water.” – Tracy Griffith, co-owner of Thriftalicious in Wabash

These independent small business owners of all stripes have banded together in a concerted effort to revitalize their downtown core – from a pastor who runs a popular tattoo parlor, to the proprietors of a vintage video game shop, to a trusted barber who often has a long line of customers awaiting their chance at a haircut.

 

  • Wabash, a small northeastern Indiana town about 85 miles from Indianapolis, is home to a diverse array of small businesses, but its downtown has suffered as the town lost its industrial base and stores moved out of the city’s core.

  • Downtown Wabash has shown incredible resiliency despite a series of challenges, and has benefitted greatly from the $500,000 Small Business Revolution – Main Street revitalization.

  • Matt Haynes, after having been a pastor for roughly 15 years, decided to open Filament Tattoo, where he gets to meet people who would’ve never walked into a church when he was wearing a suit and tie.

  • A welcome sign proudly displays a storied piece of Wabash history: in 1880, the town became the first electrically lit city in the world.

  • Owned by Maria Smyth, Eclectic Shoppe is a popular independent retailer offering a mix of vintage and modern decor, art, accessories and more.

  • A mural depicts a bygone era in Wabash’s historic downtown, which is working to attract more businesses, tourists and residents alike.

  • Cheekily named salon Get Nailed! is owned by entrepreneur Aimee Emrick.

  • Marelli’s, a boutique and fresh flower shop in a historic Wabash building, is just as focused on making customers smile as it is on crafting beautiful floral arrangements.

  • This popular coffee shop bears the name of Modoc, an elephant who escaped the local circus in 1942 and roamed around Wabash until following his nose to the scent of roasted peanuts.

  • Center Court Barber Shop is a one-stop shop for unique haircuts, great conversation and a chance to catch the big game while getting a trim.

  • Schlemmer Brothers, a trusted Wabash small business, operates both a metal fabrication facility and a hardware and home heating shop.

  • Thriftalicious’ owners, Tracy and Aaron Griffith, met in grade school and have been inseparable ever since. Their store sells vintage video games and other treasures.

  • Thriftalicious co-owner Aaron Griffith interacts with customers at his popular downtown shop.

  • The spark has already been lit to restore Wabash to its former glory, and the Small Business Revolution could be exactly what they need to re-illuminate Wabash as a shining destination.

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