In the heart of every community, it’s often the small businesses that add charm and character to everyday experiences. Here in Wheeling, we have plenty of small businesses that add to our charm. What are some of your favorite Wheeling experiences? Is it biting into some “almost-famous” salty bread at Sarah’s on Main? How about grabbing a hot latte with a side of friendly banter with your favorite barista at Mugshots? Or maybe it’s learning something new at the SMART Center. The list goes on, but what many of these businesses have in common is that they’ve participated in Show of Hands, Wheeling Heritage’s community-supported crowdfunding event that has been supporting small businesses in Wheeling since 2014!
If you haven’t attended Show of Hands before, you’re missing out. Four local business owners make a pitch explaining how they wish to start or expand their business Think of it as a live, local version of Shark Tank, except everyone in the audience gets to be the shark! The investment? A $5 donation at the door that gives attendees the opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite presentation of the evening – all of the money collected at the door gets added to the award total. The evening includes snacks, live music, community announcements, and, of course, a big check presentation to the presenter who receives the most votes. Each event is a snapshot of Wheeling’s forward momentum and a “must-attend” event for learning more about the people and businesses that make our community special.
This year marks Show of Hand’s 10th anniversary, and event organizers are eager to welcome the community back to the Wheeling Artisan Center for another memorable evening. Since 2014, Show of Hands has awarded more than $123,000 to 27 individuals or organizations. Better yet, 95% of all Show of Hands winners and 84% of all Show of Hands participants remain in business today. Considering only half of small businesses survive more than five years, it’s encouraging to see so many of our local businesses beating those odds.1
The Show of Hands 10-year celebration kicks off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at the Wheeling Artisan Center. You can expect the same inspiring schedule of events, with some extra fun sprinkled in to celebrate this special milestone. Mark your calendars now and get ready for a memorable evening!
If you aren’t already convinced to attend Show of Hands, get to know the latest slate of contestants who are counting on your support on Jan. 31.
Euphoric Doughnuts is a luxury doughnut shop whose mission is to provide customers with a culinary experience by blending the finest ingredients with creative flair to produce exquisite and unforgettable doughnuts. Owner Cameron Mitchell currently sells his doughnuts at pop-up events and select days at Table 304, but he is actively working towards opening a doughnut shop at 167 16th Street in East Wheeling. Funding from Show of Hands would go towards his ongoing building renovation, ensuring that Euphoric Doughnut’s grand opening is a spectacular event.
For more than 5 years, Hangover BBQ has been a staple for those looking for delicious BBQ. In addition to perfectly-smoked meats, Hangover BBQ also offers an array of homemade side dishes and BBQ sauces, craft ice cream sandwiches, and WV-brewed kombucha. While owners Stephanie and Billy Litman have seen plenty of success through the years, their location on GC&P Road places them somewhat off the beaten path. Through Show of Hands, the Litmans hope to purchase new signage and pursue enhanced marketing opportunities for their business.
Downtown Wheeling’s newest business takes an artisanal approach to a classic treat. Owner Tara Kobasko and her team create mouthwatering Belgian and bubble waffles topped with ice cream and a variety of sweet toppings. Shortly after opening her doors in September 2023, the block of Market Street in front of The Belgian Waffle Shop was closed for construction, making it difficult for customers to get to her shop. Through Show of Hands, Tara hopes to secure funding to invest in new commercial-grade waffle irons and marketing to help spread the word about her new business.
The Process, located at 1600 National Rd., is a private practice that offers individual mental health services to the community. Owner and licensed therapist Heather Ryan opened her solo practice in 2017. Since then, The Process has grown to include a team of five therapists, an administrative and billing specialist, and two interns who will soon become full-time therapists. Her practice currently serves over 1,300 people in our community, and she hopes to expand services to help reach even more people in need. Through Show of Hands, Heather is seeking funding for a new SMART movement room and group therapy room. This expansion would allow The Process to offer adult-based group therapy, as well as provide services tailored to adolescents and teenagers – a commonly underserved population.
Wheeling Heritage’s Show of Hands program is generously funded by several community sponsors. Orrick, the program’s corporate sponsor, donates $1,000 to each event. The Friends of Show of Hands, which consists of community members and business owners, contribute $250 to each event. Friends of Show of Hands include Dave & Beth Weaver – Wheeling Volkswagen & Subaru; Dr. & Mrs. Dan Joseph – Joseph Orthodontics; Brian Joseph, Touchstone Research Laboratory; Fuzz & Barb LaRue; H. Lawrence Jones & Sue Blevins; Kennen & Kennen Realtors; Warwood Armature; Rabbi Joshua Lief & Rebecca Lief; Will and Tracey Turani; Bridgeway Capital; FXB; Steve & Jackie Johnston; and anonymous donors.
Show of Hands is also supported by volunteers who serve on the Show of Hands Committee: Michael Biela, Sarah Clark, Devon Hepburn, Valerie Piko, and Ron Scott.
• Alex Panas is the Program Manager for Wheeling Heritage, where she works with artists, small business owners, and community stakeholders to provide technical assistance and create meaningful programs that enhance Wheeling. She also serves as the managing editor for Weelunk. Alex lives in St. Clairsville with her husband where they raise four cats and four spunky backyard chickens.
1 Otar, C. (2023, September 12). Council post: What percentage of small businesses fail — and how can you avoid being one of them?. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2018/10/25/what-percentage-of-small-businesses-fail-and-how-can-you-avoid-being-one-of-them/?sh=4117944943b5