The ‘Whelan Way Challenge’ brings awareness to Marquette County businesses

Steve Whelan says he knows many other business owners in the area, and it’s been a scary time for all of them.
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 4:24 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Two business owners in Marquette have embarked on a unique challenge that celebrates small businesses in Marquette County.

It all started last April at the beginning of the coronavirus shutdowns. Steve and Kristen Whelan snapped a picture of themselves in front of the business. After that initial night, they continued to visit businesses throughout the county, until their collection eventually grew to about 67 businesses.

They posted all of those photos to Facebook and made a page called The Whelan Way Challenge.

The couples’ efforts got the attention of a local realtor, Stephanie Jones, who challenged them to revisit all of the same businesses this year as businesses around the state reopen, some for the first time in months. In return, she vowed to help support these businesses.

“So I’m gonna buy five $20 gift certificates from any of the businesses that he goes to,” says Jones. “Instead of using them, I’m going to give them out to people who I think might enjoy them.”

Jones says that, as part of the challenge, the Whelans must visit all the businesses in the order that they did last year. They must also upload a new picture of themselves alongside the picture from last year.

Steve Whelan says that he accepted the challenge. He says it’s because he knows many other business owners in the area, and it’s been a scary time for all of them.

“Trying to just promote local businesses and say ‘hey, we’re back, we’re open’,” says Whelan.

Jones says her challenge is also being taken on by a friend, Carrie Harvela, who will also purchase and distribute local gift cards to others.

She encourages the community to join in on ‘The Whelan Challenge’.

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