Amanda Carney captured the big win following the most recent "Show of Hands."

Carney’s Cat’s Paw a ‘Show’ Success Story

It was in late 2015 when she first presented during a “Show of Hands” event, and she pitched to the crowd the need for a glass-cutter do-thingy that would allow Cat’s Paw Arts Studio to better streamline the shop’s framing services.

Amanda Carney lost, though. Carrie Eller from Under the Elder Tree proved victorious instead, and since Eller’s business has experienced so much growth, she recently announced a move to a larger space at Centre Market.

In February, however, Carney returned to that “Show” stage, and this time the experience was a bit different. Thanks to the crowd’s door-front contributions, the $1,000 sponsorship from Orrick, and additional funds donated by The Friends of Show of Hands, Carney walked off the Wheeling Artisan Stage with $3,000.

“It was nothing but a positive experience, obviously, and the funds allowed me to make the shop look better than I have ever seen it appear,” Carney said. “And while presenting all I did was be honest about what I needed and what it could do for our business. I just tried to reach as many people as I could, and I believe in ‘Show of Hands.’ Whether you win or lose, it’s still a great way to spread the word about your business or a project that a non-profit has going on.

“Of course, I was bumming when we didn’t win that first time, but I was told that I was pretty close to winning the first time, so that told me that I did well, but that the competition was pretty amazing. I have gone to them all, and the project presenters always do such a great job, so it’s really hard to tell who is going to win in the end,” she said. “There’s always a lot of good there at that event because everyone has a goal of improving our community one way or the other.”

Carney has positioned a plethora of arts supplies on the new shelving units.

The next “Show of Hands” event is scheduled for May 24 on the third floor of the Wheeling Artisan Center, a venue complete with the River City Restaurant on the first floor, stairs and an elevator to the top level, and restrooms on all levels. The Wheeling Heritage selection committee released last week the four presenters who will pitch their ventures beginning at 5:30 p.m., and the group includes one repeat participant in Second Chance Technology.

The business plan includes profit-making as well as non-profit initiatives, as was explained by Stacy Nixon during the February showcase, and the work involves renovating old CPU units, screens, and everything else that’s involved with laptop and desktop computers. One of Nixon’s primary goals is to make such technology available to those who cannot afford new hardware and software.

Bike Wheeling is, according to information released by Wheeling Heritage, a grassroots group focused on everything related to bicycle advocacy from funding bike-rack installations to staging a bike-related event in the city of Wheeling.

Ribbons-N-Bows Boutique LLC is a current Centre Market business that offers a vast variety of hair bows and other children’s accessories, but with the crowdfunding from “Show,” the owner is proposing a façade upgrade, new signage, and the addition of helium party balloons.

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Mat board has been separated by color inside the arts supply and framing shop.

The name of Vigilant Books is an appropriate play on the city’s history because the structure, when used as one of Wheeling’s firehouses, was the Vigilant Firehouse. The plan calls for a complete renovation of the building, and if successful, the crowdfunding would be directed toward a façade restoration.

Each of the four presenters will be allotted four minutes to offer their ideas to the audience members, and those attending can pose up to four questions to each participant. Those who attend are asked to donate $5 to enter the venue, and anyone wishing to spread the word about an event, a community effort, or a new business is free to promote it for an additional $5 donation. All dollars taken at the door go directly to the winner’s award.

“It does appear to be a very competitive field, and I believe that’s because so many people in this city have really good ideas about the future and about what we need next in Wheeling,” Carney said. “There are folks who just need that extra funding for a jump start like we did to really benefit their business or their project. And, really, it’s not just about the funding because ‘Show of Hands’ gives you that chance to network with a lot of people who may not know about you yet.

“The first time I presented, I did not win, but I still had a lot of new customers come into the shop because they were able to hear about what we are doing here at Cat’s Paw,” she continued. “Some of them did not know about the shop before that event, and some people just didn’t know what we offer here because they had never walked through the front door. That’s why I have always been a big fan of the event because it allows you to hear a lot about what people want to do here and how they are thinking. I have always left that event very positive about the future of Wheeling.”

Jake Dougherty, executive director of Wheeling Heritage, has been the host since “Show” began in 2015.

Carney was awarded $3,000 as the “Show of Hands” winner, and the improvements have completely changed – for the better – the interior of Cat’s Paw Arts Studio at Centre Market. Semblance for the consumer and for her, too, Carney admitted, remains the most impressive impact.

“Once I received the real check, I hired a local individual by the name of Adam Bedway to build our new custom shelving for a lot of our art supplies, including several boxes of art supplies,” Carney explained. “The project really centered on the mat board because we keep a lot of it in-stock to be hand cut for the framing jobs that people come here for us to do, and all I could do before was pile up the boxes on top of each other and make sense of it when I had to.

“It looked very unsightly, and sometimes the mat board would get damaged by accident to the point where it could not be used,” she said. “But most of it has been sorted now, and it’s been placed in order of the colors, so now it’s safe, and it’s all off the ground, and that makes a very big difference. The shop now appears much more attractive than it did before, and that’s because of the people who supported me.”

(Photos by Amanda Carney and Steve Novotney)