Shoppes at Grandon Plaza

Coming Spring 2023!

The Shoppes at Grandon Plaza, a retail incubator project by Sterling Main Street, is being designed to attract small businesses, create more retail shopping options, and bring people into downtown Sterling. Its inaugural season will open in the spring of 2023.

Courtesy of McCloud & Associates Architecture

Inspired by the success of retail incubator programs such as the Batavia Boardwalk Shops (Batavia, IL) and Western Market (Muskegon, MI), and building upon existing community assets such as the year-round Twin City Farmers Market and the Kitchen Incubator of NW Illinois that support local entrepreneurship, the Shoppes at Grandon Plaza will offer an opportunity to test the market and hone the skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive retail market. Vendors located in the shops will be exposed to traffic from other downtown Sterling businesses, the Twin City Farmers Market, and the variety of promotions and events held downtown.

Running a business is a big venture and Sterling Main Street wants project participants to succeed.  Whether it’s an existing home-based or online business looking to grow, or a prospect just getting started, this incubator program will offer ongoing support and training in conjunction with Sterling Main Street, the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Sauk Valley Community College and other community partners.  Our goal at the end of the 8-month incubation period is that vendors will be confident in taking the next step into a permanent brick & mortar location, be it downtown Sterling or elsewhere in the Sauk Valley region.

Courtesy of McCloud & Associates Architecture

Thanks to the generous contribution of the site (a vacant lot located at 310 2nd Avenue, Sterling) by Sterling Today, Inc. and an initial investment by the City of Sterling, construction began in the Summer of 2022.  Additional partners have already committed their time and talent to the project, including:  McCloud & Associates Architecture, Wendler Engineering, and the Building Trades Program of the Whiteside Area Career Center, along with the countless hours of time the volunteers of Sterling Main Street’s Economic Vitality Committee have dedicated to this project.

However, additional community investors are being sought to help bring this project to fruition and to help continue to grow entrepreneurship in the Sauk Valley.

Project Significance

The long-term goal of this project is to continue to foster entrepreneurship in Sterling and the greater Sauk Valley region, specifically as it relates to retail shopping.  To provide a structured setting for new businesses to test their market, while also providing the ongoing educational support and training for those entrepreneurs to help ensure their best chance of long-term success in a competitive and challenging retail environment.  And further, to provide a pipeline of new businesses to keep storefronts occupied and add to the prosperity of the communities in which they locate.


How Can You Help?

Sterling Main Street is seeking community partners to invest in entrepreneurship in Sterling and the greater Sauk Valley area.  Your one time contribution to this project will help curate small businesses in our community for years to come.

Your investment will assist with construction costs of the incubator units, including the needed sitework. We are hopeful investor response will be great enough that we are able to fully complete the space with landscaping and other amenities to make the Shoppes at Grandon Plaza a destination in Downtown Sterling,  complement the improvements the City is making to Central Memorial Park, and provide a pedestrian connection from the park to the rest of the Downtown.  We are grateful to those who have already committed their services to bringing this project to life, and the opportunity to work with the next generation  of entrepreneurs in its construction through our partnership with the Building Trades Program of the Whiteside Area Career Center (WACC).

Permanent signage will be placed at the site to recognize the Community Partners and Investors who contributed to its creation.

Sterling has a long history of innovation and creativity. The addition of a retail-focused incubator will complement existing assets such as the Small Business Technology Center, the Kitchen Incubator of NW Illinois and the Twin City Farmers Market to further Sterling’s legacy as the hub of entrepreneurship in the Sauk Valley.  With the continued growth of local programs such as WACC’s Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) Program and Sauk Valley Community College’s Leadership Program, along with local events like Sterling Main Street’s Pop-Up Market series, the Shoppes at Grandon Plaza will continue to expand the pipeline of services our community can offer to continue to “grow our own” small businesses.

Retail Incubator Project Donation

Retail Incubator Project Donation

I Want to Invest

Information for Prospective Applicants

Project Timeline


The Shoppes at Grandon Plaza will be open May 4 – December 23, 2023.

Rent for the season will be $2,400 ($300 per month) for the 12×16 incubator which will house your small business for the 8-month season, and includes utilities.

Hours – May through December
Please note the dates and times below are the MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS. Vendors may stay open longer than the times listed, and Sunday through Wednesday hours are optional.

Thursdays & Fridays– 10 AM to 6 PM
Saturdays – 10 AM to 4 PM

Additional Summer Hours Required
Wednesday evenings during the 10-week series of Municipal Band Concerts held at the adjacent Grandon Civic Center, from late May through early August each summer, from 4 PM to 7 PM.

These days and hours will be MANDATED, and Vendors should consider who can cover their shops if they cannot be there.

 Vendor Selection

Six 12×16 units will be available for the 2023 season. Applications WILL NOT be considered unless they are complete.

The application portal is now open!  Prospective applicants are encouraged to submit a business plan with their application and utilize the FREE resources available through the IL Small Business Development Center at Sauk Valley Community College.

The deadline to apply is January 30, 2023 at 5 PM.  

Applications will be reviewed in early 2023 and Vendors will be notified of their acceptance in February 2023.  Possession of the units will be delivered to vendors at the beginning of April and vendors will have one month to customize their spaces prior to the May 2023 opening.

An independent jury will review all applications and select the vendors for the 2023 season.  The jury committee will strive for diversity in vendor offerings, and applications will be reviewed with this in mind.  However, multiple applications may be approved that sell similar type items. Once approved, vendors may not add additional products without the prior approval of the Grandon Plaza Shoppes Manager.

Vendors will be provided a contract for the season, and unit assignments will be made by the Grandon Plaza Shoppes Manager. All vendors must participate in the marketing and events of the Shoppes, as well as participate in the required training sessions that will be provided.

No businesses which require potable water, heating or preparing of food onsite will be accepted due to the limitations of the incubator spaces.

Cancellation Policy

No refunds for vendor cancellations will be given.  Vendors may not sublet their location to another vendor. Vendors who do so will forfeit their lease.  Only vendors listed and approved on the original agreement will be allowed.

Sales Tax & Licensing

All Shoppes are required to pay sales tax as well as carry insurance on space and product.  If your business type requires licensing, proof of that will be require as well.

Vendor applicants with additional questions may contact:

Sterling Main Street
Janna Groharing, Executive Director
15 East 3rd Street
Sterling, IL 61081
Phone:  815-626-8610

*Please note that Sterling Main Street will do it’s best to adhere to this timeline. As the incubator units are currently under construction, modifications to the timeline may be needed due to unforeseen construction delays. Every effort will be made to keep vendors, once selected, fully informed on the construction process. 

Rendering provided by McCloud & Associates Architecture

Project Partners and Investors