WAYNE, Neb. — Two Wayne business owners are restoring old buildings in hopes of making the town a regional attraction.

Lukas Rix, 28, Mark Kanitz, 30, have already restored an old Victorian house and are now working on what’s known as the 1912 building, according to the Norfolk Daily News (http://bit.ly/2cgLzXk ).

The 1912 building originally served as a venue for city council meetings, social events and the police and fire departments. It’s one of many old historic building in the commercial district, near the downtown and immediately east of the post office building.

The two men plan to use much of the massive building to showcase antiques and other valuable show pieces from their Rustic Treasures business, which opened in 2012.

The 1912 building also contains an old fire station addition that was built in 1977. Plans call for leasing out the fire hall to other investors who will turn it into a brewery. If all goes to plan, everything will be operating by next summer.

Rix and Kanitz say small towns must diversify and need to evolve, and must also offer products or experiences that make them regional draws.

“The small-town atmosphere of running a retail store isn’t the same as running a big chain,” Kanitz said. “The small-town atmosphere is different. You make relationships with the customer, and they return.”

Kanitz said small towns can offer great, personal service that many larger cities can’t.

“If we’re going to sustain a rural community, we have to continue to create vibrant downtowns,” Rix said. “We have to maintain great school systems, great health care opportunities. That’s what will keep people here.”


Information from: Norfolk Daily News, http://www.norfolkdailynews.com