MADISON, Wis. - Anxious investors are keeping an eye on the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting. Chief Ben Bernanke is expected to address the future of the stimulus and whether the federal government will dial back its bond buying program.
The storefronts on Monroe Street tell a promising story. With barely any empty, it arguably shows off the good fortune of one of Madison's Main Street equivalents. But the stop owners and managers say things haven't bounced back quite yet.
Strictly Discs manager Evan Woodward helps run the business by some simple rules.
"Stay relevant, stay on top of things, and keep people wanting to come in," Woodward said.
Woodward said when the entertainment budget is often the first to go, stimulus cash can certainly help with sales.
"Anything that gets more money in their pockets to do that puts money in my pocket and food on my table and everyone else who works here," Woodward said.
Down the road at Wild Child, Bill West has made his living selling American-made baby clothes. He says he is cautiously optimistic about the fiscal year.
"I can't stress enough the importance of neighbors supporting neighbors," West said. "If Madison wants to have a strong, vibrant economy, neighborhoods like Monroe Street, State Street, Willy Street, Atwood Avenue, you have to support those businesses."
West said economic change won't be triggered by anything on Capital Hill or Wall Street. He said money spent at locally owned and operated businesses has a better chance at completely revamping the economy. West added the dollars at his store and stores like it stay in the community.
"All of our local businesses, all of our small brick-and-mortar places staying in business provides an enormous boost to our tax revenue and stuff like that," West said.
Kitchen gear customers are back at Orange Tree Imports. Owner Carol "Orange" Schroder said it's been a rough year for all small-scale retail across Madison. Her business took a hard hit with December's snow storm, which forced her shop to shut down during some of the most popular shopping days of the year.
"I think anything that the government can do to stimulate spending and make people feel more confident about the economy is a good thing," Schroder said.
Stimulus slow-down or not, Schroder said that consumer confidence will return in full force, and she anticipates a good rest of the year.
"By going out and spending money, they stimulate the economy," Schroder said, "they keep local businesses going, and that they will impact the headlines tomorrow."
This week is the 50th annual National Small Business Week, sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Visit http://www.sba.gov/nsbw/nsbw for more information.
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