In early 2016, Deluxe received nearly 10,000 nominations from coast to coast, as we sought one special small town that needed a boost. We narrowed that group down to two finalists for the Small Business Revolution.
After more than 180,000 votes, Wabash was the winner! The transformation was captured in an original eight-episode series telling the story of the inspiring people we met and the challenges they faced. Take a look below at how it all started, and learn more about the town of Wabash and the people you’ll see in the show!
About the Town
While the origination of Wabash dates back even earlier, it was 1880 when the town secured a unique place in history by becoming the first electrically lit city in the world. Wabash is determined to shine brighter than ever.
This small northern Indiana town, about 85 miles from Indianapolis, is named for the river that runs through the county. The historic small town certainly hasn’t lost its spark, but it has taken a hit from urban sprawl, which has drawn businesses and workers out of downtown. Meanwhile, a diminishing industrial base has significantly altered the local economy.
But with each consecutive challenge, Wabash, which is home to about 11,000 residents, has shown incredible resiliency – in fact, the passionate members of its close-knit community have only grown closer, and they can offer inspiration for small businesses everywhere who are working to navigate similar changes.
“We had a flood a couple years ago in the store, and business owners came out at midnight in their pajamas in January, freezing cold, to help us bail water.” – Tracy Griffith, co-owner of Thriftalicious in Wabash
These independent small business owners of all stripes have banded together in a concerted effort to revitalize their downtown core – from a pastor who runs a popular tattoo parlor, to the proprietors of a vintage video game shop, to a trusted barber who often has a long line of customers awaiting their chance at a haircut.