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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Madison Biz Opp: Downtown Corner Retail, <$100K

The Madison Daily Leader marks the retirement of longtime local pharmacist Bob Schamber. Schamber's retirement also brings the closing of Dakota Drug, a fixture of downtown retail since I was a kid...

...which brings us to this morning's underappreciated business opportunity. Go to HJN Team Realty's website, dig up Listing #2100643 for the Dakota Drug building. 6800 square feet. Two stories, including the really cool staircase and open second-floor retail space where I always looked at the puzzle books and comics when I was little. Great corner street parking and a big municipal parking lot right out back. Spectacular visibility, with a popular local restaurant right across the street. There's even an apartment included in the west side, the space where John Green used to have his studio.

Asking price: $99,900.

Less than $100K, for one of the best retail locations on Madison's Main Street.

Now if I had $100K burning a hole in my pocket, I'd still rather acquire the Masonic Temple and put a down payment on renovations. But the more sensible entrepreneurs among you, dear readers, must be able to see the potential of this prime downtown location. Perhaps Madison's bookstore could expand and open a used book emporium in the upstairs. Perhaps another electronics store could open to compete with Radio Shack across the street for the burgeoning market of technogeek DSU students. Perhaps a second coffeeshop could open and put out shady tables where we prairie intellectuals could gather to mock the tacky signs at the Stadium grill. Perhaps a frame shop and gallery could open to serve the remarkable number of artists in the neighborhood... and rent out the apartment as a rural artist retreat!

Given the importance of this building as a Main Street retail anchor, it's surprising the LAIC isn't promoting this business opportunity. (Then again, the LAIC's "Available Properties" page also fails to mention Bub's Service, Kearin's Service, and Doug's Auto, three other business opportunities just waiting for progressive, ambitious buyers eager to serve Lake County's automotive needs.) But hey, don't let the LAIC's blinders keep you from seeing the possibilities. Can you find the niche (sports equipment? outdoor store? baby gear?) that lets you compete with Pamida and Lewis? Can you repurpose this building into a community cultural center? Put your thinking caps on, get out your checkbook, and think up a new use for the Dakota Drug building!


  1. LAIC probably won't have the Dakota Drug building up on its site for quite some time. The photos for Heartland's new facility were taken last winter (snow on the ground) and James River Equipment only shows ground breaking with no building. How about charging up that digital camera and updating your site, Dwaine?

    One thing I've learned is that the results we get are directly related to the effort we put out.

    Secure Banking Solutions must not have been told about all those prime high visibility lots in the Industrial Park that would have enhanced Madison's tech image.

    Could it be that Dwaine recommended tucking this premier 7000 square foot business next to the creek behind Washington Plaza, where nobody will ever notice it, so all the new property taxes generated would help make the TIF payments for the developer? Cozy deal.

  2. It shouldn't take personal connections to get the Dakota Drug building listed and marketed. it's prime location and the creative uses we could put that building to should be enough to inspire any good economic developer to start making noise about that property immediately.


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