owner Stephanie Olson outside her shop on North Grand
Avenue in downtown Waukesha, which saw street closures
and construction this year.
Hannah Weikel/Freeman Staff
WAUKESHA — While many are awaiting the rapidly
approaching end of downtown construction, one business
owner whose brightly colored storefront was encroached
upon by orange cones and road blockades says business
has actually increased during the months-long project.
Stephanie Olson, 62, owner of Alterations Unlimited,
said when she first heard about the project she worried
it would deter customers from navigating their way into
her store. But Olson doubled down on marketing efforts,
including a neon green sign reading “OPEN DURING
CONSTRUCTION” that she put up in the shop window before
construction started and handing out fliers to her
efforts seem to have paid off; Olson said the business
is doing better just over halfway into this year than it
did in the entirety of last year, which she largely
attributes to the municipal parking lot near Associated
Bank one block away, just outside the construction
“The big thing is having people park in a different lot
that none of my customers seemed to know about before,”
she said. “I always had one spot out front, but if they
saw that there was a car parked there as they drove by,
they would decide to just come back another day.”
Olson directed all of her customers to the public lot,
regardless of weather, and found that spreading the word
about the abundance of available parking brought in more
people than she could have hoped for, she said.
“Every single person comes in and says ‘this
[construction] must really impact your business,’” Olson
said, adding that she’s even gotten tips from a few
regulars who worried the business was hurting.
the construction on the street and surrounding area has
been the best thing that could have happened to
Alterations Unlimited, Olson said.
Effect on others
city hasn’t received much feedback — good or bad — from
downtown businesses since the construction project
began, said City Engineer Brandon Schwenn.
said Olson has been the only business owner outspoken
about the benefits of construction.
“Generally speaking, there usually isn’t an increase in
business, but that’s ultimately the goal in the end,”
city invited businesses and residents to two public
input meetings earlier in the year and fielded questions
and concerns about the impact of construction.
Olson took part in those meetings, and voiced her
worries about how it would affect business, but it has
all worked out for the best, she said.
Construction is complete on the block housing
Alterations Unlimited, and is expected to wrap up
completely by the end of July. There is a little
sanitary lateral lining that will be worked on at night,
and one property owner has to complete some work on an
underground sidewalk vault. After that, all that’s left
is to wait for the concrete to dry, Schwenn said.