YNST Magazine Takes Home $7,064 at Wheeling Heritage’s Show of Hands

Four business owners competed in the third and final Show of Hands event over the 2023 season. Tacet Coffee, Moonlight Intimate Apparel, Ohio Valley MMA, and YNST Magazine spoke to over two hundred attendees, both online and in-person, for a chance to win.

Show of Hands hosts three shows per year, with four business owners making their case for why people should vote for them to receive the money. The entrepreneurs are given a chance to speak to, and answer questions from, attendees. 

This is Wheeling Heritage’s ninth annual Show of Hands season, which has seen over $116,000 raised and donated to local business owners. Tonight, the prize was $7,064.

Alex Panas, Program Manager at Wheeling Heritage, thanked the community for showing up despite the many events–like the Grecian Festival, Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival, and The Basketball Tournament games at WesBanco Arena.

  • Attendees pay $5 at the door in exchange for a ballot. All of the money collected goes towards the final award (photo courtesy of Wheeling Heritage Media).

“Every dollar coming through the door and online goes to support these businesses,” Panas said, adding that the bar had been set high with this round of candidates.

This is the last Show of Hands for the year, and Wheeling Heritage is gearing up for its tenth anniversary, which Panas says will be even bigger and better than before.

Asked how it felt to support small businesses, Panas said it felt good to be a part of an organization that gives back to the community. “The best part of my job is getting to work with people who are doing cool things,” she said. “It’s a special position where I get to be [these business’] cheerleader–it’s awesome.” 

At the tabling event before the main event, where the four competitors had the chance to meet the community and show off their crafts, the mood was jubilant. Asked who the businesses would support if not their own, Tacet Coffee was the fan favorite with three choosing them, and one choosing YSNT Magazine. 

Johnny Haught, owner and instructor of Ohio Valley MMA, was first to address the crowd.

Johnny Haught, owner of Ohio Valley MMA (photo courtesy of Wheeling Heritage Media).

Haught says he started his training journey in 2003 because he needed something to help direct his life in a positive direction. “I wanted to have an opportunity to help people better themselves as I have,” Haught told the Show of Hands attendees. “If you told me how many lives our gym would change I would think you were lying,” Haught said, reflecting on his business.

Haught spoke of the community work he has done at OVMMA. “This has become an entity that radiates positivity into the world,” Haught said, speaking about the groups’ work during the Pride on the Plaza event to keep the peace. 

If awarded the grand prize, Haught said he would use the funds to start a program for three youth to join the gym who otherwise couldn’t afford it. “This might be the thing that sets them onto a better path,” Haught said of the kids he hopes to support.

Next to the podium was Laura Oswalt, local teacher and owner of Tacet Coffee

Laura Oswalt, owner of Tacet Coffee Cart (photo courtesy of Wheeling Heritage Media).

Oswalt found her passion for coffee in 2015, leading her to want to bring high-quality coffee to her home of Wheeling. The custom-made cart, which comes apart in pieces allowing her to take it anywhere, serves espresso-based drinks, chai lattes, hot chocolate, and locally roasted beans sourced from fair trade farms around the world.

Oswalt spoke of her hometown of Wheeling noting the incredible growth in the small business community. “It was exciting to be a part of the local business movement,” Oswalt said, adding that she hoped her coffee could be one of the reasons why people stay in the area. 

Funding from Show of Hands would allow Oswalt to purchase a new espresso machine to increase Tacet Coffee’s capacity, better serving large events throughout the city. Her partner, in life and in business, said winning would serve as validation that they’re on the right track. 

Tacet Coffee thanked Public Market, Clientele Art Studio, and Midge’s Kitchen, who Oswalt has partnered with for events. Oswalt also thanked Waterfront Hall for using their beans, saying she hoped to expand the option to other businesses around town.

Adam Payne of YNST Magazine was next to speak.

Adam Payne, founder of YNST Magazine (photo courtesy of Wheeling Heritage Media).

Payne explained the background of the project, which stands for “You’re Not Seeing Things,” asking the audience to imagine what they thought of their home state. He recognized the positive connotations many people likely had, but noted these feelings aren’t shared nationwide.

“Appalachia deserves a platform for artists,” Payne said. “Our stories matter, our work matters. It’s time for the rest of the world to see that too.” 

The magazine, which Payne described as an arts and culture publication, is featured in over 50 retail locations across the state of West Virginia. The digital and print media organization seeks to amplify unseen stories in West Virginia and Appalachia, connecting consumers with businesses, and forging a path for young people to stay in Wheeling.

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Payne said the funding from tonight would allow YNST Magazine to offset the costs of launching their new website, where their stories will be available for free. With a team of eight people from around the state, Payne said he hopes to expand the business to offer resource centers for local artists to seek support and job opportunities.

Last to speak was Ashley Sutton of Moonlight Intimate Apparel in Centre Market.

Ashley Sutton, owner of Moonlight Intimate Apparel (photo courtesy of Wheeling Heritage Media).

Sutton said her main driver for starting her business was personal. She said she had struggled with her self image before, and felt discouraged previously when shopping at other businesses for clothes. “I want people to be comfortable coming in,” Sutton said of her business. “We want to help show people it’s okay to be positive about yourself.”

Sutton spoke of the issues plus-sized shoppers face at most retail stores, mainly an increase in the price, lack of sizing options, and dark corners in stores that make people feel ‘othered.’

“Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes–it’s us who hold us back,” Sutton said. Her business offers lingerie, bras, robes, pajamas, and other household goods like candles and perfumes, which she sources from size-inclusive companies and local businesses. 

Sutton said the money from Show of Hands would go towards increasing her inventory by accessing more size-inclusive companies. She also expressed a need to expand Moonlight Intimate Apparel’s reach online, saying people can feel cut off if they can’t reach them. 

Before a winner was announced, the crowd heard from a former Show of Hand winner and community members who had the opportunity to share what they were working on.

Rica Dabney, owner of Just Me & More Salon and the winner of February 2023’s Show of Hands, updated the community about how she used the prize. 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Dabney said to the crowd. With the over $6,000 prize, Dabney was able to purchase a mobile accessibility ramp for her shop, hire new employees, paint the outside of her business, and update the work stations she and her employees use.

The owners of the SMART Center updated folks on their new location at 1410 Main St, saying lots of renovations were being done. They invited people to check out their booth on Friday at the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival where they’ll talk about Italian Scientists.

Melissa Rehbolz of Midge’s Kitchen, and Show of Hands winner in November 2021, announced her hotdog cart as fully operational. The cart has been outside of the Public Market and First State Capital, and will be at the Wheeling Arts Festival and Heritage Music Bluesfest. Check out Midge’s Hotdogs’ schedule on her Facebook page, Midge’s Kitchen.

Jeff Forster of Wheeling Rainbow Pride spoke to attendees, saying their organization was looking for a building in Wheeling to host resource events for the LGBTQ+ community.

Mary Clark of Amanda’s Angels for Hope, invited people to support her organization’s fundraising efforts at Otey’s Smokehouse on August 11 to raise money for their travels to Light Up The World in Texas. Clark lost her daughter to a drug overdose and has offered families like hers a space to grieve, meet, and seek support.

Valerie Piko of Regional Economic Development Partnership announced the upcoming CO.STARTERS class offered by the organization. The class helps entrepreneurs learn the skills needed for their business. Over 75 people have participated in the program in Wheeling. For more information visit redp.org/costarters

AmeriCorps volunteers Emma and Corbin from Grow Ohio Valley announced a project they are working on called the Wheeling Community Foodbook to be published in December. They asked members of the community to submit recipes they enjoy cooking with friends and family. Interested parties can email their submissions to education@growov.org.

After community announcements, the winner of the $7064 Show of Hands prize was named. And the winner was… YNST Magazine! 

  • We love a big check moment! (photo courtesy of Wheeling Heritage Media).

“It feels absolutely incredible to have the support of the Wheeling community,” Adam Payne said after winning the community-funded award. “The way that this event is designed is impactful because you get to see the community show up and support local businesses.”

“Everyone that presented tonight did an absolutely incredible job and got to feel that love first hand from the Wheeling community,” Payne added. “I am incredibly proud and kind of gobsmacked at the results. I think that it’s incredible.” And that was the night!

The next Show of Hands is scheduled for March 2024. Until then, make sure to stay up to date with events hosted by Wheeling Heritage!

• Justice Hudson is an AmeriCorps volunteer and citizen journalist originally from Saint Albans, West Virginia, and has lived in Wheeling since January 2020. He studied history and women and gender studies at West Virginia University and has worked in farming and community education since moving to the Friendly City. In February 2023 he began writing as a folk reporter independently for the Hudson Household Editorial and for organizations including Mustard Seed MountainBlackByGod: The West Virginian, and Weelunk