‘Just one thing after another’: Sun Prairie business owner describes surviving 2018 explosion, now dealing with pandemic

Businesses that are still financially recovering from the explosion are now dealing with more financial hardships from the pandemic

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis.– Small businesses have been struggling for the past several months trying to navigate the hardships that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. But businesses along Main Street in Sun Prairie have dealt with more than just a rough couple of months. For many of them, it’s been a rough couple of years.

In 2018, an explosion destroyed many Main Street businesses, many of which are still recovering financially today.

Mark Rudd, who owns Mr. Rudd’s Barbershop, said he talks with neighboring business owners about how they are dealing with the financial difficulties.

“We have been through some tough times,” Rudd said. “I miss my barber shop being full of people. I miss the camaraderie. I miss the laughter.”

Rudd said as a small business owner, it’s difficult to face one major financial hardship after another. Rudd said the explosion cost thousands of dollars to repair broken windows and destroyed inventory for many of the businesses along Main Street and then COVID-19 shut down many businesses for months, leaving many with no source of income.

“We don’t have the foot traffic. There’s nobody coming downtown anymore,” Rudd said. “People are trying to figure out ways of how to keep their businesses alive and it can become a struggle very quickly.”

Rudd said he is now following tight guidelines in order to keep people safe and follow CDC guidelines. He said he now takes clients by appointment only and that people have to wait outside his shop until he’s ready to call them in.

“We are going through a bit of a slowdown,” he said.

Although times have been tough for Rudd and his neighboring business owners, he said his community is still showing strong support for the businesses and are proving that they are still Sun Prairie Strong. Rudd said he is “hopeful” that he will survive the pandemic and the financial hardships that come with it.