GALESBURG — The retail scene on South Seminary Street could soon grow substantially by way of the transformation of a familiar Main Street building.
Candace D’Agnolo on Thursday bought the property most recently occupied by Dollar General, 354 E. Main St. She and her husband Joey Palermo, of East Galesburg, plan to renovate the building and create four retail spaces, all with entrances on South Seminary Street.
“We don’t have a theme for the building, but it will be mixed use with potentially a combination of all or any retail, boutiques, restaurants and consumer experiences,” D’Agnolo said.
“There will not be professional services. Only businesses that will bring in a consistent flow of consumer traffic.”
D’Agnolo purchased the 7,876 square foot former Dollar General building for $200,000 according to the Galesburg City Assessor office. The structure, whose entrance always has faced Main Street, was built in 1960 and for many years was home to an Osco Drug store before it moved to Sandburg Mall
She said the property caught their eye on a visit to Galesburg last summer.
“The first weekend we visited Galesburg (end of July 2020), I was surprised to see such a large space was vacant on a visible corner,” she said. “Like many Galesburg residents, I instantly envisioned a large mural on the wall or subdividing the property.
“We didn’t even live in the town at the time, but had made an offer on a house in East Galesburg. After living in the area and driving by the empty space with the light always on, it just drove me crazy! Being a huge supporter of “Main Street USA,” I did not want to see another chain go into that location and knew something needed to be done.”
Location, location location
D’Agnolo sees their project as a compliment to other businesses in downtown Galesburg.
“We love it being on a corner in such a charming and historic area,” she said. “Plus, the new development for the Civic Art Center is exciting and adds to its value.
“From the broad business opportunities with zoning and all the available grants to quick communication with officials and so many people wanting to work together, investing in commercial real estate in Galesburg is a breath of fresh air from Chicago.”
D’Agnolo and Palermo do coaching and mentoring nationally for brick and mortar small businesses and plan to have a strong relationship with the businesses who rent from them.
“Our goal as landlords is to help these entrepreneurs be as successful as possible by providing additional resources and training on sales, marketing, customer service, digital presence and more,” D’Agnolo said.
A chance for first-time business owners
D’Agnolo said they have not yet started recruiting potential tenants, but the options are many.
“We may create a co-working space, or use one or two of the spaces as an incubator or ‘hive’ space where a brand new business tests the waters of entrepreneurship for one year,” she said. “They then move out, so we can bring in a new concept the following year into the space.
“I hope we attract people who have an entrepreneurial spirit and a huge passion for a subject that they want to bring to life in Galesburg as a business. Maybe we’ll see businesses who are already established in Peoria, Monmouth, the Quad Cities or surrounding areas want to open a second or satellite location here.”
D’Agnolo said she and Palermo have plenty of ideas for businesses that could fill their building.
“If anyone out there is interested in a butcher shop, candy store, women’s boutiques with fun purses and affordable jewelry, a home decor shop, co-working cafe and think-tank space, restaurants, a wine shop and tasting room … please reach out,” she said.
“We don’t have the time to run these businesses ourselves but would love to help support anyone who does.”
For inquiries, interested parties can visit the couple’s website seminaryandmain.com.
Old storefronts, combined with vibrant colors and modern charm
D’Agnolo said plans for how the building would look are evolving, but hopes architects can combine her love of old storefronts with vibrant colors and modern charm.
“I’ve always loved redevelopment of old buildings vs. building new,” she said. “Junction City in Peoria and the atmosphere of Peoria Heights are great examples of reviving older districts.”
The couple is in the process of getting bids from architects and will begin the application process for facade and TIF programs soon.
“If all goes well, the permit process should be complete by November, so we can work on the interior over the winter,” she said. “Fingers crossed we have the spaces ready for tenants to start doing their build out and set up in the spring and everyone ready for business in summer 2022.”
From Peoria, to Chicago, to Galesburg
D’Agnolo grew up in Peoria, but has spent most of the last 23 years in Chicago. She and Palermo moved to East Galesburg in October 2020. The same week they moved to the area they were married on their property on Lake Rice.
Palermo has had a career in banking and procurement.
D’Agnolo started her own pet boutique in 2006 called Dogaholics. It grew to three locations in Chicago with pet supply, dog grooming, dog daycare, boarding, training classes and dog walking. Palermo joined the business about five years ago.
“Joey is a huge supporter in helping bring my visions to life,” D’Agnolo said.
D’Agnolo also created Pet Boss Nation, a coaching and consulting community for pet professionals. They now mentor thousands of pet pros and D’Agnolo speaks at industry trade shows and has written for many industry magazines.
Reevaluating life, and leaving a legacy
D’Agnolo said it’s no longer necessary to be tied to a location for her business.
“We can work from home, so COVID made us evaluate what we wanted from a home space,” she said. “We absolutely love the people here and how little traffic there is. In a town like Galesburg, there is still a lot of activity and wonderful programming without all the congestion and lines.”
She added, “Having a lot of life still ahead of us, we see this as a great investment personally in the long run through tenant income, but also a way to leave our legacy and make a bigger impact in the small business community here.
“We’re looking forward to the next chapter of our life here in the Galesburg area and are hitting the ground running already in our first year.”
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