Veteran-owned businesses take center stage at Nov. 4 Veterans Market in Waterford

RACINE COUNTY — A Veterans Market is coming to Racine County on Nov. 4 at Rusty’s Dry Goods, 307 E Main St., a veteran-owned specialty men’s store located in Waterford.

veteran-owned business
Ward Lyon in Iraq, as there was an incoming rocket. It hit tent city and he was a part of the crew that went to extinguish it. – Photo courtesy of Ward Lyon

Ward Lyon, co-owner of the store and 21-year Army and Air Force veteran, is the organizer of the event. His involvement in both the military and business is allowing him to create opportunities for other veteran entrepreneurs.

Highlighting Veteran-owned businesses

“This market is very important. This market is a way for the public to show their support for local veterans that turned to entrepreneurship,” says the owner. “It is a way for veterans to get with other veterans to support each other and communicate.”

Lyon noted that the resource vendors at the market will show veterans, and the public alike, that “resources are available to them or family.”

veteran-owned business
Lyon’s view during a State emergency, Operation power outage, Brush clearing teams. 2019. – Photo courtesy of Ward Lyon

This is the first event of its kind and will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. There is no cost to attend. 

It will highlight nearly 20 veteran-owned businesses with a variety of merchandise, a wide variety of handmade crafts and goods, food trucks, veteran resources, activities for kids, a massage therapist, beard trimmers, and more.  

Providing opportunities for Veterans

Ward’s wife, Vana Lyon, runs the business with him, along with their sister store, Main Street Mercantile. Both have made an effort since opening in 2020 to carry products made by veteran-owned small businesses.

In an effort to continue enhancing opportunities for the veteran community, the market was born.

“We are so proud of all of the veteran-owned businesses in our state and want to give them all the chance to showcase themselves,” said Vana.  

Veteran owner at LiT Beard Co. reflects

veteran-owned business
Anthony Anderson, veteran and owner of a Wisconsin business will be available as a resource at the market on Saturday. – Photo courtesy of Anthony Anderson

Among those who will be in attendance at the market is Anthony Anderson, owner of LiT Beard Co. This Wisconsin-based, veteran-owned beard oil and balm company delivers an experience for customers that makes a difference beyond the checkout button.

Anderson is an Iraq war veteran who served multiple deployments overseas. Since his transition out of the military, it’s been his mission to continue serving.

He’s worked towards that goal by walking across 7 states raising awareness, which turned into a documentary talking about the issues that impact veterans and their families, in addition to raising money.

This veteran’s focus is on happy and healthy reintegration and also providing education to those who cross paths with him and his company.

“$1 from every sale from LiT Beard Co. goes to help veterans and their families through Project Welcome Home Troops,” said Anderson.

Project Welcome Home Troops is an organization that teaches veterans and their families how to have a happy and healthy reintegration, all for free, Anderson explained.

Veteran-owned does matter

veteran-owned business
Anthony’s business is just one of the companies that will be at the first annual veterans market in Waterford. He offers a wide variety of beard care products including sample boxes. – Photo courtesy of Anthony Anderson

Anderson’s connection to the veteran community is one that connects beyond beard oils and balms.

“We’re helping people look good while also doing good,” he said. “This market and supporting the veteran businesses… it’s critical that we do it, not just because it supports the veterans’ businesses, but because in many instances, just because we took off our uniform, our service to one another, our service to the community, our service to our country, hasn’t stopped, it’s actually shifted.”

Just as veterans’ ways of serving may have shifted, the way communities can support these men and women has to shift as well.

“You’re helping me, helping families – not just mine – but families get the chance they need for happy and healthy reintegration. And those veterans whose businesses you’re supporting, their kids go to school, they’re your neighbors. We are your neighbors. We are your coworkers. We’re all of these different things, your support for veteran-owned does matter.”

At the market, there will be the chance to check out items like LiT Beard Co.’s beard oils such as Orion which possess an apple, leather and vanilla scent encompassing the season of deer hunting. Other products include Wisco Whiskey, a twist on a Wisconsin favorite — the supper club Old Fashioned.

veteran-owned business
LiT Bread Co. is a brand with a mission to help veterans and their families. They will be present at the Nov. 4 Veteran Market. – Image courtesy of Anthony Anderson

There will also be the chance to connect with this company and learn further about their mission beyond the beards.

“When you’re helping veterans, especially veteran entrepreneurs… that are using their business as a platform to help communities – to help other veterans help their families… That is a win on every possible criteria. Great product! Great business! Great mission! Great reach! That makes your dollar go so much farther. It has so much more value when you do that,” said Anthony about the importance of supporting veteran-owned businesses.


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