Waunakee construction creates mixed feelings for business owners

Chamber of commerce set up program offering savings to shop locally
Waunakee construction creates mixed feelings for business owners

Bumpy roads and detour signs have businesses feeling the impact of Waunakee’s Main Street reconstruction project.

Construction along the downtown area that started in May will have motorists detoured until the fall. Local businesses in the construction area are still open, and with two more months of construction work to go, some businesses are worried about the potential impacts.

“You just live with it day by day. You know it’s going to happen, you know it’s going to be here until September or October; so you just have to try to work through it and keep your cool. It’s hard, but you can do it,” said Fred Loy, owner of Village Meat Market.

The $4 million project’s goal is to transform the look of the downtown area, with smoother streets, bike lanes and improved intersections.

Loy said he has already begun to feel the financial impact of the construction with a 40 percent decrease in sales in the last month.

“You can absorb it for a month, maybe two. But if it goes on beyond that, you start to wonder, ‘How am I going to pay bills?'” he said.

Not all businesses are hurting from the construction. Stores along the designated detour route, like Zoe’s Pizzeria , have benefited from the road changes that require motorists to pass their business.

“It’s almost like a blessing in disguise. People have seen us more, but definitely with dine-in and stuff picking up, it’s definitely been a good thing,” assistant manager Mike Weishal said.

Many local stores are holding sales throughout the summer to draw in customers. Sandy Taylor, owner of Waunakee Furniture, hopes her summer construction sale will lessen the financial burden.

“If we have even some of the people that don’t sell as many dollars here locally, spend one more night eating at a local restaurant or shop something local, that three months of time will make a difference. So maybe those people who decided to not come in from far away, if our local customers are here, we will still be viable, it will help and balance out,” Taylor said.

The reconstruction is set to be completed in September. The chamber of commerce has set up a “Waunabucks” program that offers customers savings at businesses along Main Street during the construction. The village of Waunakee is also helping to ease the transition with a website for residents and visitors to get the latest information on the project’s progress.