Who: Jenna ~ Craig High School ~ Janesville, WI
Where: Type A Studio
Beloit, you and I have had some TIMES.
Like when I was nearly ashamed to tell people where I grew up while living in Milwaukee.
When folks at the company I worked for in Waukesha used to ask if I knew anyone “in a gang”.
When I used to drive endlessly around your streets in the 1990′s looking for something….ANYTHING….to do.
Ah yes, we have had some times.
And even now, it’s not a rarity for me to poke a little good-natured fun at my hometown. I was born and raised here…..I’ve lived here my whole life with the exception of about 7 years further North (and those 8 God-forsaken months in California).
I have been known to call it “Betroit” with a chuckle.
I have been known to say “Holla!” after telling people where I’m based.
All in good fun….but it seems the tide may be shifting. My good-natured ribbing may become misplaced. Unwarranted.
(Pictures courtesy of
When I left Beloit initially in 2002, the downtown was pretty much a veritable wasteland. We didn’t really grace its streets unless it was to go to the post office or to The Carom Room (the local pool hall). The rest of the area was lined with mostly empty storefronts. Walmart had opened the year I graduated from high school (1998) and kind of sucked up the remaining mom and pops into its massive vortex.
But, you can’t really blame Walmart entirely. It’s kind of as if Beloit had been experiencing a mid-life crisis of sorts…..or a loss of direction. We really didn’t know who we wanted to be as a city. We were industrial for so long and when those jobs started to vanish, we were left a ghost town…known mostly for our (I believe) kind of inflated sense of dangerous elements, poverty, and a general sense of having given up. A drive through the town left you with a sense of near depression. It seemed run down…..sad.
This is when I left. I was in need of opportunities I had come to believe Beloit just could never provide. We moved to Waukesha, WI, where their little downtown bistros and shops just fascinated me. I became even more convinced Beloit was beyond saving….and happier each day that I had left for, what I believed, was “bigger and better”.
Fast forward 7 years. I had a kid, a house in Milwaukee (a very very very SMALL house in Milwaukee), a burgeoning business…and we made a decision. We made the decision to take our family back to our hometown.
The decision was almost purely economic. The cost of living in Beloit was so much lower than Milwaukee that we could have about three times the house for the same price we were paying there. Plus, our families being around offered up child care : ) Gotta be honest, it was a move we just couldn’t pass up….even as our friends scratched their heads and wondered “Why would you EVER move back there?”
When we returned, we went through quite the adjustment period. In Milwaukee we had OPTIONS….stores, restaurants, shops, malls…..places other than Walmart.
Here, we had to learn to scale it back a bit. Consider our given options….of which we initally thought were pretty scarce.
But, then we decided to stop whining and get involved in what was becoming a bit of a comeback for the city. I think it all started the night we went to Merrill & Houston’s and realized we had a really nice, upscale dining option in our area. We realized if we didn’t patronize these places, we had absolutely nothing to complain about. We started attending the Farmer’s Market, which is just INCREDIBLE. Nothing like it in our old area of Milwaukee and such a great, small-town-only type way to see folks you know on the weekends.
Beloit is the epitome of a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. Because we were down. We were nearly out. But…..don’t call it a comeback. Call it….a hibernation. I think the city was lying in wait. Looking for the stream of innovators….of dreamers….of entreprenuers…and of “do’ers” who were going to turn the tables.
I decided I was going to open a space for Type A and I knew I wanted to be downtown. I wanted to be involved with the DBA as much as possible and become a real part of the resurgeance of interest in the Mom and Pop businesses of Beloit. When the space on State St. opened I jumped on it. It was EXACTLY where I wanted to be. Even though the space was in major need of work, I was happy to adopt it and try to make it my own.
My building has been there since the late 1800′s. It has witnessed every facet of Beloit’s growth. I find that absolutely fascinating.
This week they began the final leg of construction on our space for our 2nd “only in Beloit” business, Tin Dog Records. I realized today that the city I once joked about being from is now the city that is home to our two dreams becoming a reality.
I’m so happy to see local business folks coming together…and coming out of the wordwork…to start their dreams in Beloit. Places like Clara Bo…..Pure Gravity Fitness..Northwoods….Cafe Fromage..The Phoenix Building…all the new class of Mom and Pop’s that are changing Beloit’s landscape….changing our reputation. Now we are becoming a “destination”. The businesses wanting to come here are employing young professionals who will live, eat, work, and play within our city limits. They will shop at our businesses and support our dreams as we, in turn, support their’s by not letting this city wilt and die.
I’d like to say that Beloit can no longer be the Black Sheep of Wisconsin. Instead, we need to be its best surprise. A well-crafted location that folks just entering or just leaving the state can swing by and admire.
I’d like to say that “Betroit” is dead….and I hope people come out in droves this summer and experience everything this city is building to offer its residents. I, for one, am very excited about what is to come.
Who: Oliver & Henry
Where: Type A Studio
Who: Ted & Hillary
Where: Private Home Beloit, WI
- Healing quite nicely from surgery last week. Except sneezing. That is unpleasant.
- Molly was sick most of the week. And here I had thought we’d escaped the long winter puke-free. Nope.
- Kids have been downright obsessed with musicals this week. Betty has discovered Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (and developed quite the fondness for Donny Osmond. She likes his face). Also Mary Poppins, or “Harry Muppins” as Molly calls it. Betty got to go to the Fireside Theater this week to see Mary Poppins live and you can tell she was totally transformed into a full on theater geek. I’m quite proud.
- Went shopping for work clothes this week. Now I know why I only do that once a year. I straight up SUCK at shopping for clothes. I get overwhelmed, I have no idea what’s “stylish” or what looks good on me, and I typically end up buying a heap-load of black, shapeless masses. I did get a new work suit, but all in all I ended up spending a ton of money on stuff that looks exactly what I already owned. I’m a lost cause.
- It’s David Tennant’s birthday today! WOOT! National holiday!
- Construction at the record store is pretty much at a very frustrating stand still. I realize how much of a control freak I am when I have NO control. Feels like we’ll NEVER open….but I know I just need to be patient.
Tomorrow being Record Store Day and us missing it is kind of salt in the wounds, a bit.
- Easter this weekend. We have nothing real big planned. Just brunch at our house…..a few baskets. Maybe church.
- Wedding season kicks off today with a hometown affair. May is really when stuff starts happening big time…May is INSANE.
- This week? Senior portraits, family portraits, headshots, kind of a mix of stuff. It’s slowly inching into warmer weather….and I am SO READY.
Here’s some pics from this week!
© Type A Images Photography