Magnolias Storefront Downtown Wausau

Local Businesses Tap into the Appeal of Downtown Wausau

June 22, 2023

Rocket Industries Lobby

In 2020, Ryan Gallagher, president of Rocket Industrial, relocated the national headquarters of his innovative packaging company to the Third Street Lifestyle Center. Gallagher’s visionary decision was fueled by his desire to create an extraordinary workplace. “As a forward-thinking company, we believe that the heart of the city is the perfect location for businesses like ours,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher’s business approach emphasizes creating a purpose-driven culture that prioritizes conserving resources — something the younger generation and upcoming workforce value. He also recognizes that today’s young adults enjoy urban living. By moving downtown, Gallagher is tapping into the appeal of city life, making Rocket Industrial an attractive option for job seekers who want an exciting, meaningful career.

“We want to improve the employee experience by having nearby places to walk to, such as restaurants, parks and shops,” said Gallagher.

As an employer, Gallagher says his goal is very clear. “I want people to love living and working in downtown Wausau.”

The husband-and-wife team of Brian and Julie Fox are also excited to have a business located downtown. They recently opened Magnolia Soap and Bath Co. in the former Lamplighter building on Third Street, which was the first store in Wausau to get electricity back in 1886. As a franchise, it’s the first one in the Midwest. “The historic River District is undergoing rejuvenation; it’s the place to be and the place to grow,” said Brian.

Magnolia Soap owners Downtown WausauHe said it’s the perfect spot to launch their line of plant-based, chemical-free soaps. “We both have worked in healthcare in one form or another and this certainly has made us aware of what products are a healthy choice and which ones are not. We want to make healthy choices for our bodies and the environment,” he said.  He added that they sell some containers with a 10% recycling discount.

Brian, a retired veteran who flew helicopters in the Army, now flies as an EMS pilot for the Aspirus Hospital System. Julie spent years working as an LPN and a clinical laboratory scientist and is thrilled to put her skills to work making soaps inside their shop. “When you look at downtown and the surrounding opportunities offered in Wausau as a whole, there really isn’t a need to shop elsewhere,” said Fox. “It’s so important to support your community and the small businesses that are vital to growth.”

Wausau offers various resources for entrepreneurs looking to start a new business downtown, including loan programs and a business resource guide for the River District. “The City of Wausau has commercial rehabilitation loans that have financed several exterior improvements over the decades,” said Liz Brodek, Wausau development director. “Much of downtown would not be as well-maintained without these loans.”

She encourages people to reach out for help and make the move downtown. “It’s the heart and character of our community. It’s the most diverse business mix in the metro area, peppered with public spaces and surrounded by beautiful trails that allow people to experience the serenity of the Wisconsin River,” she said. “When people look to bring their business downtown, it’s hard not to want to be a part of that energy.”


What’s Happening in Downtown Wausau


Summer Ale Trail  – Friday, June 23 from 5 – 8 p.m.
Another new event brewing this season is the Summer Ale Trail. Participants can purchase tickets at participating downtown stores to sample beer at select locations along the route. A trolley for safe rides to the district’s West side will be available. More information at Wausau River District.

20th Annual Chalkfest Wausau – June 24 & 25

Artists of all ages and abilities will transform the sidewalks of the 400 Block into more than 360 works of art. Featured artists Craig and Jamie Rogers will astound with a large 3D masterpiece on Third Street. Also, there will be live music and local nonprofit vendors. Participants will vote for their top five drawings and the winners are announced during a ceremony on stage at 4 p.m. on Sunday.  Facebook/chalkfestwausau

Children’s Chalkfest on Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Click here for more information.

Celebrating Chalkfest 20th Anniversary Exhibit  –  June 23 – 25

See various works of art from the past 19 years in the Loft Gallery at the Center for Visual Arts. CVA hours are Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m.– 4 p.m. A gallery reception will take place on Friday from 5 – 7 p.m.

Downtown Sidewalk Sales – Saturday, June 24

Get the best deals of the year from your favorite downtown businesses!
See participating businesses here.

 The 2023 North American Whitewater Open Canoe Slalom Championships

Wausau Whitewater is excited to be hosting the 2023 Open Canoe Nationals again this week. Open canoe paddlers from across North America will travel to Wausau to compete in the whitewater slalom championships. Previous OC Nationals have also included competitors from Canada, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Germany and several other nations. Practice started on Tuesday and racing takes place on Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25. White Water Park, 200 River Drive, Wausau.

Practiced started on Tuesday and racing takes place on Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25. White Water Park, 200 River Drive, Wausau. More information at Wausau Whitewater.


Be Wausome and Enjoy Wausau!

Exciting changes are happening in downtown Wausau. Wausau Opportunity Zone (WOZ) invites the community to stay informed by signing up for regular emails at, a site WOZ launched in 2021 to involve and engage everyone. WOZ is leading the charge toward a new era of prosperity by partnering with Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership, local governments, businesses and organizations.