After a two-year hiatus, Show of Hands will return as an in-person event this Wednesday on the third floor of the Wheeling Artisan Center. Four entrepreneurs will pitch their plans to expand their businesses that they believe will positively impact Wheeling. They are:
During the pandemic, Wheeling Heritage transitioned the event to an online format where videos of each participant were shared online and votes were collected through their website. While the online format proved successful, with over $13,000 awarded to two local business owners, the return to in-person will be a welcomed change.
“Part of what makes Show of Hands so special is the shared experience of hearing these passionate entrepreneurs tell their stories and make their case for support in the same space,” explains Alex Panas, Communications and Development Manager for Wheeling Heritage. “It’s a great chance to learn about the good things happening in Wheeling and we hope it inspires people to keep supporting local businesses.”
The owners of the four businesses will pitch their projects, and the one who receives the majority of the votes from the audience will take home more than $4,000. Since Show of Hands was started in 2014, nearly $90,000 has been awarded to 25 local business owners and organizations.
Prize money comes from sponsors and from money collected at the door. Orrick is the event’s corporate sponsor, and Friends of Show of Hands include Dave and Beth Weaver, Wheeling Volkswagen and Subaru; Dr. and Mrs. Dan and Debbie Joseph — Joseph Orthodontics; Brian Joseph – Touchstone Research Laboratory; Fuzz and Barb LaRue; H. Lawrence Jones; Kennen & Kennen Realtors; Warwood Armature; Rabbi Joshua and Rebecca Lief; Sikora Montessori; and two anonymous donors.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and guests will have the chance to network, socialize and enjoy an hors d’oeuvres buffet. The four-minute presentations begin at 6:30 p.m. After each presentation, the audience can ask up to four questions of each presenter. Then, the voting begins. Attendees who pay $5 at the door will be entitled to one vote.
During tallying time, audience members who have paid an additional $5 at the door can make a one-minute community announcement. Also, the winners from the last two virtual Show of Hands, Making Magic and Midge’s Kitchen, will share what they’ve been up to since winning Show of Hands.
Terri Jill Bonar, owner of Making Magic, used her Show of Hands award to complete much-needed renovations to her flower shop. She won the first virtual Show of Hands in November, 2020.
Melissa Rebholz (left), owner and chef of Midge's Kitchen, won Show of Hands in November, 2021. Her plans are to use the Show of Hands award to purchase a food trailer to help expand her business.
It’s sure to be a special evening that you won’t want to miss!
Meet the Entrepreneurs
Anton Drake, Lucky Candies 2
Subscribe to Weelunk
After opening one successful candy store in Belle Vernon, PA, Anton Drake decided to open a second location in Wheeling. Lucky Candies 2, located at 1062 Market Street in Market Plaza offers nostalgic candies and other novelty sweet treats. One of their most popular offerings is their $5 fill-up box, where you can fill a box with over 95 different candies to choose from.
Anton wants to expand his business by purchasing a freeze dry candy machine, which would allow him to turn his candy into light, crunchy treats with a longer shelf life. Show of Hands would also provide additional money to purchase cotton candy and snow cone machines so they can offer even more sweet treats to customers during community events at Market Plaza where his business is located.
Art Burnside, Art’s Old Town Bicycle Repair
Art Burnside is passionate about the revitalization of Wheeling, which is why he chose to open his bicycle repair shop in historic North Wheeling. He believes that having more businesses in the neighborhood will attract new visitors to the area who enjoy outdoor recreation along the Wheeling Heritage Trail.
His North Wheeling bicycle repair shop is conveniently located off of the Wheeling Heritage Bike Trail. Art’s Old Town Bicycle Repair will provide walk-in repair services, as well as limited “mobile” trailside repairs and repair pick-up and delivery services. Art has been slowly preparing his shop for a grand opening in April of this year. Show of Hands would provide funds to help Art purchase additional repair equipment and inventory for his shop, including a compressed air station.
DeSean James, Backyard Escapes
DeSean James founded his landscaping company in 2021 as “a small company with a big heart.” Backyard Escapes offers traditional landscaping, hardscaping, maintenance, tree removal, and snow removal services.
Community support is the heart of his business. “Without the community, my business wouldn’t exist,” said DeSean. And that commitment to the community is also incorporated into DeSean’s business model, as he plans to start a “180 Program” that would provide opportunities to previously incarcerated youths or adults to explore the field of landscaping, along with the other trades his business provides. Show of Hands would help DeSean purchase additional equipment to continue to grow his business.
Thomas Gilson, The Cheese Melt Bar and Grill
The Cheese Melt is a popular local food truck that is transitioning into a permanent brick-and-mortar restaurant in Warwood. In addition to the familiar menu of grilled cheese sandwiches and smash burgers, the new restaurant will have expanded hours and offerings, including a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Owner Thomas Gilson would use funding from Show of Hands to help purchase equipment to complete a new kitchen build-out for the restaurant. “Winning Show of Hands would be a major confidence booster,” said Thomas. “Knowing that the community is behind us and pushing for our continued success will only push us to work harder to better serve the community in return.”