Editorial: Downtown Ripon fit these retailers to a ‘Tea’

KEN AND KIM Bahr have no regrets about opening their business downtown, despite Boca and a fire that disrupted Watson Street traffic. Tim Lyke photo

As the Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce seeks ideas to answer the sentence, “Ripon is a great place to live because ...,” one response are the city’s business owners.

They’re plucky, passionate, visionary risk takers.

Just like the 52 folks who established a political party here 162 years ago. Or the duo who started a washing machine company in the back shop of their hardware store. Or the Ripon College professor who founded the country’s largest forensic and speech association for high school students. Or that little girl born to a family on Lane Street who grew up to help lead the campaign for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote.

Determination was their middle name.

Meet Kim and Ken “Determination” Bahr.

Before opening their downtown Ripon shop in September 2012, they explored several communities.

Ripon didn’t necessarily top their list, particularly since they’d heard about some controversy involving a Milwaukee attorney-turned-developer who was missing deadlines to fix up downtown buildings he had bought using city funds.

But the Bahrs were undeterred. ...

The Bahrs decided to rent Kearney and Flanagan’s first-floor, 1,200-square-foot retail space at 208 Watson St.

They haven’t looked back.

“We’ve covered our expenses since the day we opened,” Kim said.

Ken, 76, and Kim, 60, now are selling their business due to health concerns. “All we’re looking to do is to get back some of the money we put into equipment and inventory,” Kim said ...They remain bullish on downtown’s future, given its current direction toward specialty shopping. ...

— Tim Lyke

To read the entire column, including why the Bahrs chose to settle their business in Ripon, see the July 14, 2016 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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