Frequently Asked Questions

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes retail incubator project will provide physical retail space experience to businesses ready to take on the challenge of operating a brick-and-mortar location.  Selected businesses will have the opportunity to test their product in the McHenry market for a season while learning the ins and outs of operating a retail storefront.

The plan is to build an idyllic “village” of 12’ x 12’ and 12’ x 16’ tiny shops that have a nominal cost to rent for a season (April through October).  Entertainment and community activities on Miller Point, the adjacent city park, will work in concert with the shops to make the area a destination location.

The Riverwalk Shoppes will have power and HVAC, creating a unique marketplace that can be open most of the year.  After the main season, the shops can be transformed into a Christmas Market for November and December and even host pop-ups during our St. Patrick’s Day Festival, Shamrocks the Fox.

The ultimate goal of these shops is to activate retail in downtown McHenry.  The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes will add vibrancy to our downtown experience. By providing a larger selection of retail, our downtown will become a magnet for customers who are willing to make the trip to a shopping destination location.  Retail, in addition to the existing dining and entertainment establishments, will help the area to thrive, boosting economic development for the city and encouraging tourism.

They will be built at Miller Point Park, just one block south of Route 120 on Riverside Drive.  Located next to the Riverwalk on Boone Creek, the shops will serve as a link to the retail that already exists in our downtown areas in either direction.

Not at all. While the surrounding retail and restaurants will have the largest immediate impact, the goal of the project is for these businesses to graduate into our existing empty commercial spaces around town.  In addition, excitement about growth and opportunity will attract additional businesses, residents, and visitors to our community at large.

We recognize that most startup retailers need a low cost of entry, a smaller space, and high visibility with steady foot traffic.  We feel not only is this a great way to add temporary retail at an affordable price, but vendors will have the opportunity to open their own business and determine if it is the right fit for them without investing a significant amount of capital. One of the requirements of the business owners will be to participate in multiple workshops that will help them grow their business and prepare them for “what’s next”.  Supported by the McHenry Area Chamber, the City of McHenry, and other shop owners, these businesses are in a strong position to succeed.

Retail incubation is a good investment on many levels. From a municipal perspective, the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) found that incubators create 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure investments. In addition, incubators generate an average of $30 in tax revenue from every $1 in funding according to the National Association of Business Incubators (NBIA). NBIA also reveals some encouraging national statistics, in that 87% of incubated companies are still in business after 5 years, and 84% stay in the same area where they started operations.

Those commercial spaces are privately owned.  We have no control over the price of rent or the layout of those buildings.  The goal is for our vendors to graduate into these existing spaces after they gain confidence and experience through our incubator.

We have already garnered a pledge of funds from the RISE Up Foundation for the McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes through their 2022 festival ticket and beer sales.  We have several businesses who have offered free products or services for this project.  In addition, students in McHenry District 156 High School building trades and business programs will help local professionals with construction, graphic design and production for signs, marketing, and more.

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes site and buildings will be funded entirely through cash and in-kind donations.  The goal is to raise enough money through a capital campaign to fund additional site development for Miller Point Park improvements.

After construction, the Shoppes will be self-sustaining.  The nominal rent that is charged to our participants will pay for shop management, maintenance, educational workshops, marketing, and other incidentals.  The Riverwalk Shoppes will be managed by the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce, a 501(c)6 non-profit.

Maintenance of the surrounding park areas, lighting, snow removal, and garbage service will be provided by the City of McHenry.

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes project, including site development, building materials, and adding bathrooms at Miller Point will cost approximately $500,000.  The additional improvements to Miller Point Park, including the amphitheater, turf area, spray pad, and parking lot change are estimated to be an additional $1 million.

Applications will be available in late summer (mid-August) for interested businesses.  Using a scoring rubric, an independent jury chosen by the McHenry Area Chamber and McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes manager will select the top candidates for the 10 available buildings.  Businesses will be graded on their concept, viability, marketing and business plans, diversity of offering, and interest in moving into a brick-and-mortar location in the future.  A final interview will be conducted to make sure the business owners understand the participation requirements.

Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2022.  Final incubator participant selections will be completed before the end of the year.  Educational workshops and other preparations for the 2023 season will begin in January 2023.  The Shoppes will officially open in late Spring 2023 and continue through the end of October.

While a physical space is a core component of the program, the wrap around services provided during the incubation trial period are essential to business success.  This controlled environment allows for businesses to test out brick and mortar retail, expand their network, develop their business acumen, and gain exposure.

In addition to a significantly reduced rent, business owners will receive expert guidance and business support.

Program benefits include:

  • Basic membership for the McHenry Area Chamber
  • Educational workshops
  • The opportunity to build a support network with peers in their cohort
  • Mentorship from local professionals
  • Essential resource guides, referrals, connections to local business leaders and much more

We understand that not everyone is ready to make that jump into mandatory shop hours; however, our shoppes are reserved for those who are able to be open (at a minimum) our required hours during the main season to maintain consistency and attraction to our 10 retail shops.

We will offer the opportunity to apply as a pop-up shop throughout the season for businesses who prefer to only do a weekend or two.  Those applications will also be available on our website.

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes are restricted to retail businesses who have products to sell.  The shops are not equipped with plumbing, so any food products must be pre-packaged offsite or be considered fresh market selections.

Applications will not be accepted from service industry professionals or those doing direct sales/MLM (multi-level marketing).

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes retail incubator project will provide physical retail space experience to businesses ready to take on the challenge of operating a brick-and-mortar location.  Selected businesses will have the opportunity to test their product in the McHenry market for a season while learning the ins and outs of operating a retail storefront.

The plan is to build an idyllic “village” of 12’ x 12’ and 12’ x 16’ tiny shops that have a nominal cost to rent for a season (April through October).  Entertainment and community activities on Miller Point, the adjacent city park, will work in concert with the shops to make the area a destination location.

The Riverwalk Shoppes will have power and HVAC, creating a unique marketplace that can be open most of the year.  After the main season, the shops can be transformed into a Christmas Market for November and December and even host pop-ups during our St. Patrick’s Day Festival, Shamrocks the Fox.

The ultimate goal of these shops is to activate retail in downtown McHenry.  The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes will add vibrancy to our downtown experience. By providing a larger selection of retail, our downtown will become a magnet for customers who are willing to make the trip to a shopping destination location.  Retail, in addition to the existing dining and entertainment establishments, will help the area to thrive, boosting economic development for the city and encouraging tourism.

They will be built at Miller Point Park, just one block south of Route 120 on Riverside Drive.  Located next to the Riverwalk on Boone Creek, the shops will serve as a link to the retail that already exists in our downtown areas in either direction.

Not at all. While the surrounding retail and restaurants will have the largest immediate impact, the goal of the project is for these businesses to graduate into our existing empty commercial spaces around town.  In addition, excitement about growth and opportunity will attract additional businesses, residents, and visitors to our community at large.

We recognize that most startup retailers need a low cost of entry, a smaller space, and high visibility with steady foot traffic.  We feel not only is this a great way to add temporary retail at an affordable price, but vendors will have the opportunity to open their own business and determine if it is the right fit for them without investing a significant amount of capital. One of the requirements of the business owners will be to participate in multiple workshops that will help them grow their business and prepare them for “what’s next”.  Supported by the McHenry Area Chamber, the City of McHenry, and other shop owners, these businesses are in a strong position to succeed.

Retail incubation is a good investment on many levels. From a municipal perspective, the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) found that incubators create 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure investments. In addition, incubators generate an average of $30 in tax revenue from every $1 in funding according to the National Association of Business Incubators (NBIA). NBIA also reveals some encouraging national statistics, in that 87% of incubated companies are still in business after 5 years, and 84% stay in the same area where they started operations.

Those commercial spaces are privately owned.  We have no control over the price of rent or the layout of those buildings.  The goal is for our vendors to graduate into these existing spaces after they gain confidence and experience through our incubator.

We have already garnered a pledge of funds from the RISE Up Foundation for the McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes through their 2022 festival ticket and beer sales.  We have several businesses who have offered free products or services for this project.  In addition, students in McHenry District 156 High School building trades and business programs will help local professionals with construction, graphic design and production for signs, marketing, and more.

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes site and buildings will be funded entirely through cash and in-kind donations.  The goal is to raise enough money through a capital campaign to fund additional site development for Miller Point Park improvements.

After construction, the Shoppes will be self-sustaining.  The nominal rent that is charged to our participants will pay for shop management, maintenance, educational workshops, marketing, and other incidentals.  The Riverwalk Shoppes will be managed by the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce, a 501(c)6 non-profit.

Maintenance of the surrounding park areas, lighting, snow removal, and garbage service will be provided by the City of McHenry.

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes project, including site development, building materials, and adding bathrooms at Miller Point will cost approximately $500,000.  The additional improvements to Miller Point Park, including the amphitheater, turf area, spray pad, and parking lot change are estimated to be an additional $1 million.

Applications will be available in late summer (mid-August) for interested businesses.  Using a scoring rubric, an independent jury chosen by the McHenry Area Chamber and McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes manager will select the top candidates for the 10 available buildings.  Businesses will be graded on their concept, viability, marketing and business plans, diversity of offering, and interest in moving into a brick-and-mortar location in the future.  A final interview will be conducted to make sure the business owners understand the participation requirements.

Applications will be accepted through November 15, 2022.  Final incubator participant selections will be completed before the end of the year.  Educational workshops and other preparations for the 2023 season will begin in January 2023.  The Shoppes will officially open in late Spring 2023 and continue through the end of October.

While a physical space is a core component of the program, the wrap around services provided during the incubation trial period are essential to business success.  This controlled environment allows for businesses to test out brick and mortar retail, expand their network, develop their business acumen, and gain exposure.

In addition to a significantly reduced rent, business owners will receive expert guidance and business support.

Program benefits include:

  • Basic membership for the McHenry Area Chamber
  • Educational workshops
  • The opportunity to build a support network with peers in their cohort
  • Mentorship from local professionals
  • Essential resource guides, referrals, connections to local business leaders and much more

We understand that not everyone is ready to make that jump into mandatory shop hours; however, our shoppes are reserved for those who are able to be open (at a minimum) our required hours during the main season to maintain consistency and attraction to our 10 retail shops.

We will offer the opportunity to apply as a pop-up shop throughout the season for businesses who prefer to only do a weekend or two.  Those applications will also be available on our website.

The McHenry Riverwalk Shoppes are restricted to retail businesses who have products to sell.  The shops are not equipped with plumbing, so any food products must be pre-packaged offsite or be considered fresh market selections.

Applications will not be accepted from service industry professionals or those doing direct sales/MLM (multi-level marketing).