Mari's Flowers to leave Brady Street at end of June

NOW: Mari’s Flowers to leave Brady Street at end of June

Another Brady Street business on Milwaukee’s east side is closing up shop. Mari’s Flowers will close at the end of June.

It's the third business to close along the historic street this year.

Business owner, Mari Cucunato has spent the past 40 years in the flower business, and has run her Brady Street business for nearly a decade.

"I love Brady Street. I love the neighborhood, my customers. I became part of the neighborhood. I could not see myself not being here," said Cucunato.

But at the end of the month, she won’t be there. As Milwaukee is in the midst of a boom, the cost to rent space and run a business along Brady Street has become to much for Cucunato.

"I can’t control my overhead, and the numbers aren’t working. And the space isn’t give me back what i give the space,” Cucunato explained.

Since 2015, at least 8 other businesses have left the historic street, all for various reasons.

Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac says Brady Street is constantly evolving and changing.

"Every generation has had a different conception of what Brady Street is and can be," Kovac explained.

Kovac says the past several years have been hard for small businesses, not just on Brady Street, but across the city.

He says one of the contributing factors hurting small business sales across the country is internet shopping. People are able to shop from the comfort of their own homes, rather than entering a brick and mortar store.

He says that's a problem because small businesses are a vital part to the city and individual neighborhoods.

"Having a booming residential scene which we are having on the east side, downtown, and the near southside, isn't going to be sustainable if you don't have services for the people living there, so we at the city are very serious about supporting small businesses," Kovac said.

The City of Milwaukee offers a number of grants to small business owners. They include the White Box Grant, Retail Investment Fund Grant, and Signage & Facade grants.

Kovac says only a few businesses have applied in recent years, but they are looking to change that.

"We've been trying to communicate that better because it's very important to us to keep our main streets,” Kovac explained. 

Cucunato said that wasn't enough for her, so she purchased a retail space in South Milwaukee. But she says the decision to leave Brady Street was not an easy one.

"No street compares to Brady Street," Cucunato said.

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