LA CROSSE, Wis. - For more than two decades, the Warehouse in downtown La Crosse has provided a stage for up and coming bands to perform.
It also serves as an alcohol-free venue for the many young teenage fans to enjoy some live music, but because of financial strains, it may have to close its doors soon.
"It's been a great run, but we don't want to stop it," said Steve Harm, the owner of the Warehouse.
On the corner of Fourth and Pearl streets, the opportunity for hundreds of young bands to enter the warehouse for a chance at the limelight may be coming to an end.
"It's a really cool thing to see a kid's eyes when they get on stage for the first time," said Harm.
The entertainment venue uses posters of past performers as wall art and the only beer available is root beer.21214802
"Kids should drink when they're 21," said Harm. "Until then, we'd like to give them alternatives."
Harm said business just hasn't been able to keep up in recent years.
"We owe a pretty tremendous amount of back taxes and we're behind on the mortgage," said Harm.
Harm started an online fundraiser to raise $200,000 to save the Warehouse from closing.
"It's unique that there has been one establishment that is an alcohol-free venue, especially for young people," said Al Bliss, La Crosse County health educator.
There are more than 270 establishments in La Crosse with a beer or liquor license.
Even while struggling financially, Harm has never thought to get one himself.
Bliss said that sends a strong message to the community.
"It sent out (what) was a good social norms message to our young people by having that alcohol-free entertainment venue downtown," said Bliss.
"Kids are the ones that are really into music, and I can't imagine taking that away," said Harm. "No way, not for money."
With less than a month left in fundraising efforts and not even a tenth of the way to the goal, Harm still has hope people will see the benefits of keeping the Warehouse open.
"We'll make it," said Harm. "People will come through. I know it."
Some of the more notable bands that have played at the Warehouse when they were just starting out include Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Everclear.
Harm said while these bands are now established in the music industry, they have come back to La Crosse from time to time just to play at the Warehouse.
The Save the Warehouse campaign fundraiser will end August 22.
So far they've only raised about $15,000 of the $200,000 goal.
To learn more about the fundraiser or to make a donation, head to the Warehouse's website.
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