Small businesses thriving in Mukwonago

MUKWONAGO -- If you drive into Mukwonago from Milwaukee, a huge Walmart and Home Depot both welcome you in off the freeway.  But once you get downtown, you start to notice the small businesses.  With five of them cutting ribbons in \"grand opening\" ceremonies in late August, they might not be so small after all.

\"We hear all the time, Mukwonago has really needed a mom and pop pizzeria,\" Crazy Bears Pizza owner Ray Barber said.

Not quite \"mom and pop\", but two cousins recently filled that void in what once was an auto supply shop.

\"I've seen a lot of old, familiar faces, a lot of faces that i haven't seen in years and years,\" Barber said.

Barber came back to his roots to open the restaurant in April.  The Mukwonago High School grad and his cousin/kitchen manager, Dave Oldenburg, sometimes put in 15-hour work days.

\"People are cheering for us, people want us to succeed and we've got a lot of regulars,\" Barber said.

Just across Rochester Street, Inspire Salon owner Ashley Fleury works hard for her payoff too.

\"I have a better clientele here than I did working out in Brookfield for the past however many years,\" Fleury said.

The Mukwonago native has been cutting hair at different salons for about five years, but jumped at the chance to open her own place.

\"When you are giving quality work and services and they like you, [customers] don't feel like you're taking their money away, they're happy to give it to you,\" Fleury said.

That's a trend Mukwonago's Chamber of Commerce director sees all across town, thanks in large part to what she calls a productive relationship with a new village board and administrator.

\"Being much more aggressive about bringing businesses to the area and have been much easier to work with over the year, so we're getting things done,\" April Reszka said.

That's opened the door to tax financing, easier access to small business bonds and fulfilling life-long dreams.

\"We're hopeful, we've been blessed so far and we're optimistic we're here to stay,\" Barber said.

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