Business owners talk about civil unrest in Kenosha

Business owners talk about civil unrest in Kenosha

In the midst of the chaos that has become our lives in the past week, we caught up with several local business owners to get their two cents on the state of Kenosha.

These stories and more appear in the August 27, 2020 print edition of The Smart Reader magazine.  All photos & Q&A’s by Donny Stancato. Text edited by Jason Hedman.

with Joshua Ferguson,
owner of Sugarboxx,
2225 63rd Street

Can you give our readers an update on your business?

We are a newly opened Playspace in Kenosha for kids Age 1-10. We are not open for  play, but we are available for private events and birthday parties. Our Open Play will begin September 15th, after the schools resume in person classrooms.

With the events that have taken place, how do you feel our local & state government has handled the protection of local businesses?

I think this has been a learning experience for the entire city and state as a whole. I’m most proud of the firefighters who worked tirelessly to put out the fires and protect the citizens and I am so grateful to our community supporters who jumped right in to donate supplies and the volunteers who came to help clean up and board up the businesses.

What advice can you give to other businesses that were also affected?

Stay resilient and don`t be afraid to ask for help.

Was there any specific acts of kindness you witnessed in the past few days? 

More than I can name. I’ve seen an entire community of people band together to protect their city, businesses, and families.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

Our business has been closed all week, after already struggling through shut down from the corona, We are yet again at crossroads with having our doors shut.

Have you been able to take a break from social media?

Unfortunately, not. Social media is my favorite way to stay connected with the people of our city. I must stay current with the struggles of our community in order to see the gaps and understand where we can help. I escape reality in the moments when we are helping the people in our community through the tough times.

Do you have any opinions to share on what is happening in Kenosha?

No matter what happens, Kenosha is one of the strongest cities in Wisconsin. We are full of resilient, brilliant and talented pioneers. I have no doubt that our city will bounce back and it will be even better than before.

How will Kenosha bounce back?

With strength in numbers – we will unite and work together to rebuild our city and support the local businesses that keep this city going.

 

with Trish & Boda,
owners of Faded Barbershop for Men,
2227 63rd Street

Can you give our readers an update on your business?

Our business was one of the few lucky ones and was untouched. We have reopened as of August 27th.

Were there any specific acts of kindness you wittiness in the past few days? 

We have witnessed the community come together like no other time before. It’s only going to get better from here.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

Although our building wasn’t damaged we still endured sleepless nights, we had to board our shop up, and close our business. Every night is scary not knowing if we will have damage or a building at all.

Have you been able to take a break from social media?

No way have we stayed off social media! It has been an Excellent source of some sort of comfort knowing what’s going on with all the wonderful people who have provided their live feeds.

 

with Aimee Crucianelli,
business operator at
Fusion, 5014 Seventh Ave

Were there any specific acts of kindness you witnessed in the past few days? 

So much. Our neighbors, The Factory, provided us with our window protection. Many friends helped us remove our music gear from Uptown for protection. Our parents opened their home to us and our animals because we also live Uptown. Countless people cleaning and organizing fundraisers to help with our recovery.  It’s been just amazing to see us all come together.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

This was our grand opening weekend so we had been working inside setting up for days prior to the unrest.  We live Uptown and operate a business Downtown so honestly I can’t even think straight about anything.

Have you been able to stay off social media?

No! I was glued to the live feeds trying to make sense of things. I’ve not escaped – I’ve been too worried, scared, proud and disgusted since this all started.

Do you have any opinions to share on what is happening in our city?

I am so saddened by the level of hate and absolute division we see both in Kenosha and on social media.  My heart breaks for people of color, business owners, service workers, police, fire and medical workers.  We all, myself included, MUST do better.

How will Kenosha bounce back? 

Rising above hate and banding together.

When do you think you will reopen?

We are currently closed.  I’m not sure when we will reopen but believe me it will be as soon as possible.  Music and the Arts will help heal us.

with Sarai Gillmore,
owner, Salon on Sixth,
5040 Sixth Ave

Can you give our readers an update on your business?

We have remained open during all of this. Salon on Sixth has been open 9 am to curfew. The front is completely boarded up. The back door is our entrance and exit. Which gets boarded up every night.

With the events that have taken place, how do you feel our local and state government has handled the protection of local businesses?

The local and state government has seriously let us down. By not sending or letting extra help in right away, people thought it was a free-for-all and it escalated beyond what could have been contained.

Do you have any opinions to share on what is happening in Kenosha?

In my opinion it is a shame what is happening in kenosha. How the mentality of people can justify wrecking business and livelihoods. How more hate keeps spreading the hate.

The people that have been helping and making a positive influence are the ones that had to board up their businesses, lose income, and still took the time and money to donate and help others.

How can Kenosha bounce back?

Kenosha will bounce back by remembering the history of our town. Instilling peace above hate.

with Kevin Ervin,
owner of Frank’s Diner,
508 58th Street

Can you give our readers an update on your business?

As of today (Wednesday the 26th), we are closed.  We have been since Monday morning.  The place is boarded up, but thank goodness, no damage. Hopefully we’ll open up later this week.

With the events that have taken place, how do you feel our local and state government has handled the protection of local businesses?

I think it was a learning curve for them.  There was some errors and miscommunication at first, but I think they’ve rectified that.  We’ll have daily press conferences and a lot more law enforcement now. Unfortunately, there was a lot of mayhem the first couple of days, but I hope they have things under control now.  I hope they see what they are up against.

What advice can you give to other businesses that were also affected?  

I don’t know. It’s a tough time. Have hope sounds a little trite. But the people of Kenosha are good people. Most of this damage I believe was by outsiders. I hope the businesses hit the hardest can come back.

Was there any specific acts of kindness you witnessed in the past few days?

Tons. I’ve seen so many people come together and help each other. It’s very heart warming. I’ve seen total strangers helping each other. I’ve seen Democrats and Republicans boarding up buildings together. It’s amazing. Like I said, Kenosha has amazing people. They love this town. They’re hurting because it’s hurting. Healing it, helps them heal.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

It’s a different city. Roads you are used to have been blocked or closed. Navigating in town is a little challenging.

Have you been able to take a break from social media? 

No. I’m on it constantly when I have down time during curfew. I post a lot of what’s going on for my friends who are all over the country, especially in Chicago. It also is a great source of LIVE STREAMS to see what is actually happening. There are a couple of social media journalists who are doing a pretty awesome job.

Do you have any opinions to share on what is happening in Kenosha?

I’m heart broken. The shooting of Jacob Blake was horrible. The killings last night are horrible. I’m all for peaceful protest, it’s a right I would defend with all of my heart. But rioting and destruction is never acceptable. I truly believe that the bad elements causing the damage have nothing to do with the peaceful protesters. But all this destruction to my town; it hurts.

How will Kenosha bounce back?  

By the hard work of the great people of Kenosha. And by that, I mean the physical labor needed to rebuild, but I also mean the hard work needed by people of influence in this town to come together and start having meaningful, honest dialogues about what people want, what they fear, what they hope for, and how to make changes. Kenosha has been counted out before, but this town and it’s people are hardy northern, Midwest stock. We can, and we will come back. This is a setback sure, but I think this town can come together and repair itself.

with Paul Little,
owner of Steampunk General Store,
2219 63rd Street

Can you give our readers an update on your business?

Right now everything’s OK with Don’s Hobbies and Steampunk General Store, the store is boarded up but we don’t know what’s going to happen tonight, tomorrow night, or in the future. Right now our door is boarded shut but I will still be open by appointment. People can reach me on Facebook, messenger and phone

With the events that have taken place, how do you feel our local and state government has handled the protection of local businesses?

From what I’ve seen on the videos and everything, I think they are doing all they can without escalating things.

What advice can you give to other businesses that were also affected? 

Hang in there! There’s a lot of people in Kenosha that are trying to help, and hopefully you have good insurance.

Was there any specific acts of kindness you witnessed in the past few days? 

Yes, people were bringing wood up to the stores that needed to be boarded up and dropping it off or sticking around and helping board the stores up. I also saw people handing out bottled water to the people that were working, I tried to bring some bottled water back to the helpers, but by the time I got up there everyone was done working.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

The heat is putting a damper on things. With the store boarded up it’s hard to be open for business.

Have you been able to take a break from social media?

No. I’m on social media constantly trying to watch the streamers, keep an idea on where the rioters are at night and when it stops to see if it’s safe from my wife to go to work in the morning as an essential worker in a grocery store.

Do you have any opinions to share on what is happening in Kenosha?

Looks like concerned citizens with guns stopped the westward movement up 63rd street, the only part of uptown that is left standing and unburnt. There are lots of good people in Kenosha, we will bounce back! Eventually. It is really bringing out the best in a lot of people in town, we’re not gonna put up with this bullsh*t, we will persevere. The trouble seems to come from mostly out of town troublemakers, not Kenosha citizens!

How will Kenosha bounce back? 

Kenosha will bounce back due to the hard working good people of Kenosha! We can work together to rebuild the city and make it even better than it was before!

with Lyna Postuchow,
owner of A Summer’s Garden Florist,
5617 Sixth Avenue

Can you give the readers an update on your business?

Even though we suffered some damage from vandalism, smashed out front windows and front door, we are still able to send out beautiful flowers to uplift spirits. We are here answering phones and our website is open for business. If there ever was a time when you need something beautiful in your lives, this is it. Give us a call (657-7673).

What advice can you give to other businesses that were also affected?

As business owners we need to know that we are not alone. We need to be there for each other because that is what Kenosha is all about. We are stronger when we work together. We need to patronize each other. Get to know each other so we can recommend each other. Creating a network of Kenosha business owners that have mutual respect for each other can lead to amazing things. Also, the people of Kenosha are extremely supportive. I feel honored to live and work in such a caring community.

Was there any specific acts of kindness that you witnessed in the past few days?

The outpouring of love and support from the community to help with the cleanup has been overwhelming. People would just come in and ask what we needed to get done. Customers stopped by to offer encouragement and help. Even competitors in town, Midtown Aiello Florist and Flowers by Joseph called and offered to help us in any way they could. Taking deliveries, if we needed product or whatever other help was needed. Words cannot express how grateful we are to everyone.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

We all have to remind ourselves that COVID is still a problem. The worry about that and worry for the safety of our family and our community. As horrible as all the fear and worries that we have, it all pales in comparison to what the Blake family is going through.

Have you been able to take a break from social media?

Honestly, I have been glued to social media. Watching live streams has kept us informed.


with Mike Lampos,
owner of Fec’s Place,
5523 Sixth Avenue

With the events that have taken place, how do you feel our local & state government has handled the protection of local businesses?

The Kenosha Police and Sheriffs Department did what they could with the resources they had which was obviously not enough to handle protecting the whole city.   Totally understandable I fully support their efforts. The major problem in my opinion was the snail-like pace it took to request and accept the help BEING OFFERED. We need people in office that can make fast judgement calls. City Council held an emergency meeting and the Mayor wasn’t even present – that’s a big problem. It takes months sometimes years to get simple legislation passed, maybe that’s what they are used to, but in an instance like this we needed immediate action – not action two days later. As soon as this incident happened  the calls should have been made and the help should have been headed our way.  Hold these leaders accountable come election time or get used to seeing this destruction over and over again.  Help should not have to be requested in times of crisis it should be automatically sent.

Besides the obvious, have there been any other obstacles you have had to overcome this week?

Obstacles have been the new norm around here for some time now. Every day/week it’s something different.  Finding supplies to get people boarded up has been a challenge.

Have you been able to take a break from social media?

Staying off social media is impossible for me right now. I have a vested interest in everything going on. Koerri Elijah, CJ TV, and Mercado Media have been amazing bringing the coverage to you.  I watch them and the cameras on my building observing 6th Ave. The only escaping reality I have had is the few hrs of sleep each night I’m getting.

Do you have any opinions to share on what is happening in our city?

Without a doubt Kenosha will bounce back. It’s going to take time. Remember we are still struggling to survive through this Covid BS.  So add this to that and it’s just another setback. Kenosha has great people and great craftsman. It’s going to take time but we will rebuild and be better than ever.