The new Market Beautiful strip mall in Solon Springs offers more than a mix of businesses: the site gives female entrepreneurs a chance to make their mark.
Nestled between Dollar General and NAPA along O’Brien Parkway, the mall has six storefronts — a bakery, a boutique, a massage studio, a nutrition club, a salon and a yoga studio. A farmer's market will be held at the site from 3-7 p.m. Fridays beginning May 29.
“I’m very excited because this area’s got so much to offer,” said Angela Botner of Solon Springs. “It’s such a jewel, a hidden jewel and it’s really highlighting a lot of the entrepreneurial spirit around here. It’s really awesome.”
The building was constructed by Dustin and Ashley Nelson of Bennett. Dustin owns Northwoods Concrete & Construction.
“He makes everything I envision come to life,” Ashley Nelson said.
The couple have been buying and renovating homes in the Solon Springs area for the last two years, then got into rentals. Through that, Nelson, an occupational therapist with the Maple School District, found she had a passion for running a business and working in real estate.
She designed the building’s modern, bright spaces and started recruiting fellow entrepreneurs as it took shape.
The first to open was The Bake Shoppe on May 2. It offers goodies from Twisted Pastries, A Dozen Excuses and Great Harvest Bread Company. Nelson, who owns the bakery and neighboring Lush Dahlia boutique, was overwhelmed by the community’s response.
“There were people here at 6:15 a.m., the bakery opened at 6:30 a.m., and we had a line consistent until 1 p.m. when we closed,” she said.
Fit53 nutrition club, a sister store to Tower Fit in Superior, opened May 9. Co-owner Ashley Martin said business has been brisk. They were hoping to serve 50 meals a few months after they opened, but she said they've already passed that mark.
She was excited that all the businesses in the mall are owned by women.
“We’re right next to the NAPA where all the males hang out,” Martin said. “They’ve been coming over for shakes, though. They love it.”
For some entrepreneurs, Market Beautiful was the chance they’d been looking for.
“It’s been my biggest dream to have my own salon,” said Jenna Brand, owner of Branded Salon.
Her full-service salon opened May 14 and was already booked out through June 5.
Others jumped in to answer the call of a friend.
“I’m nervous. I don’t know anything about running a business, so I’m learning as I go,” said massage therapist Chantal Beerntsen, owner of The Elysium.
Beth Reedy, owner of Vibe and Flow Yoga, took a chance for the community that has supported her.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Reedy, who has been teaching yoga in Douglas County for seven years. “I never thought I’d be a business owner. I never thought I would have my own place and be opening during a pandemic.”
Reedy's initial offerings were online, but she’s now mixing online, in-studio and open air class options.
Nelson said she purposefully brought in a blend of businesses that would add something new to Solon Springs. She initially looked at running them all herself, but decided to put them in the hands of experts.
“I love it because most of these ladies are like my best friends,” Beerntsen said. “And it basically has everything that I need so I would never even have to leave. It’s just huge for us.”
“I think it’s great. Solon Springs needs it,” said Laura Alt of Superior, who was helping Brand set up salon appointments on Tuesday, May 19. “I’ve already shopped Lush Dahlia a couple times.”
Nelson said she got so many responses from entrepreneurs looking for a space of their own that she's mulling an expansion of Market Beautiful.
“I think people are really excited about it," Nelson said.
For now, she's focused on getting signage in place and preparing for the mall's July 25 grand opening.
Visit the businesses’ Facebook pages for more information, including open dates and hours, class times and how to make appointments.