'The city needed it:' Milwaukee small businesses feel economic fallout of mostly-virtual DNC

An economic impact unlike anything Milwaukee has ever experienced was expected to come with the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC).

Not only were downtown restaurants, hotels and stores expected to be booming this week, small businesses throughout Milwaukee were looking for an economic lift from the DNC.

Sherman Phoenix

That includes businesses housed at Sherman Phoenix -- a space that rose from the ashes of the Sherman Park unrest in 2016.

"It was devastating, it feels like little daggers," said Clyde Anderson, part of the Sherman Phoenix management team. "It's hard because there were so many things that were supposed to happen...The city needed it."

Clyde Anderson

It has been a week of "what should have" and "what could have" been in Milwaukee. Small business owners were expecting an influx of foot traffic. The Sherman Phoenix would have been booked all week long with DNC-centered events.

Instead, Anderson said the 27 vendors housed at Sherman Phoenix have felt the blow of a virtual convention. However, he remains optimistic that other opportunities will return with the time is right.

Sherman Phoenix

"I think $200 million that was going to come to the city, all those other opportunities which create so many other opportunities," Anderson said. "So now I think we just sort of have to recalibrate and find other ways to highlight our city."

Marie Carter

At Sherman Phoenix's Underground Makers Market, Marie Carter -- who owns The Classic Shoppe -- said she was most looking forward to expanding her reach, meeting new customers from out of town.

"I think that a lot of times culture and art can get lost in the next big trend," said Carter. "'Classic' is my logo and 'Trends Fade' is the motto." 

Even without the boost she was hoping for, Carter said it is the heart and soul behind her businesses that inspires her to keep moving forward.

"The passion behind my business wasn't necessarily making a lot of money; it was doing what I love and expressing my creativity," Carter said. "That passion is what's keeping me going regardless of who does and doesn't see it."

FOX6 News was told that prior to COVID-19, Sherman Phoenix was hosting organizations and nonprofits who were looking to schedule events there during the DNC. In the past, the space has held events with nearly 400 people.

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