Katie Wieringa shopping

Katie Wieringa of Sheldon holds up a garment her 5-year-old son Simon picked out while they shop at Mr. B's and Lady B's in Sheldon.

SHELDON—After more than two decades of proprietorship, Mr. B’s and Lady’s owner Amy Van Marel wanted to make a splash with the look of her downtown Sheldon women’s clothing store.

Over the years, Van Marel has done little touch-ups in the store but nothing as extensive as the remodel that was completed in April after about two months of work.

“We did new lighting, painted the ceiling, tore out walls, built dressing rooms that were handicap accessible — that was very important to do that,” she said. “Pretty much everything got done.”

The new Mr. B’s and Lady B’s has new countertops, a more open look, new carpeting, a temperate gray paint job and seating area in the middle of the showroom.

The new look of Mr. B's and Lady B's

Mr. B’s and Lady B’s received an extensive interior renovation through the support of a loan from the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation.

Situated under an artsy light fixture, the seating area is complemented with magazines and bottles of water.

“The seating area, that’s probably the best improvement,” Van Marel said. “The men love our seating area.”

To execute the vision she wanted, Van Marel knew she had to get help.

Being a member of the Sheldon Chamber and Development Corporation Board of Directors, the shopkeeper was aware of its assistance options for members.

Van Marel applied for and received a loan through the SCDC’s retail interior renovation loan program.

The loan is based on a dollar-for-dollar match of building improvements and/or shelving that pertain to the retail area and has a maximum of $15,000 and a minimum of $500.

There is zero percent interest over the five-year span of the loan provided the borrower meets all of the qualifications during the loan period.

“Everything costs more than what you expect and I went way over my budget I had anticipated,” Van Marel said.

“Once you start with an old building, you do one thing and it then leads to another thing and another thing and that’s what happened.”

The improved store has received rave reviews.

“Everyone loves our new look,” Van Marel said.

Success stories like Van Marel’s are SCDC community development director Curt Strouth wants to get the word about multiple programs offered by the entity.

In addition to the interior renovation loan, SCDC offers a storefront loan program as well.

“Our storefront program makes businesses eligible for any storefront improvements from signage to replacement of windows and doors, facade upgrades, paint and it’s a forgivable loan,” Strouth said.

“Meaning as long as they stay open for business and are a member of SCDC for that forgivable loan period, they don’t owe anything back.”

Strouth noted the time frames for forgiveness vary by project and businesses can qualify for either 40 percent of the project cost or $100 per linear foot of the building, whichever amount is less.

While the interior and exterior loan programs cover a lot of aesthetics, Strouth and the SCDC board found that not enough was being done to help business owners with higher-cost aspects that were not related to appearances.

Because of that, roof repair recently was added to the storefront program.

“They can qualify under the same program if they need to repair the roof, shingles, whatever, they can qualify for that assistance through this program as well,” Strouth said.

“There’s nothing right now that covers any business owner or building owner for any kind of roof repair and we certainly think this will entice those business owners and building owners to want to do that.”

Strouth noted roofs do not increase the taxable values of a building and they are not fun expenses, but they are a fundamental part of any structure.

“This will help us make sure that if someone is on the fence in a financial situation that we have those dollars that we can help incentivize those roof repairs and the whole structure of the building,” he said.