La Crosse has seen its share of businesses close in the downtown area over the past year with a slow economic recovery still underway. Retail shops to restaurants have been affected, and some of these local business closures are noticed by student customers more than others.
“VPX was one of my favorites,” says Hailey, a UW-L junior. “It was nice having that place close-by, and Cherry Pickers, too, right here in the area. Now, to do really any shopping, you have to make a trip out to Onalaska.”
Among closed downtown businesses in recent months are the Warehouse, Silver Hideout, and Jade Café. “I really liked Jade,” Chelsea, an accounting major says. “It was so close to campus and home. I was sorry to see them gone when I came back this fall.”
Most businesses tied to the UW-L student population can do well cyclically, but they also find times difficult in the off-season. Not only does business slow, but their employee base shrinks as well.
The owner of one failed local business would only comment, “Things are tough enough as it is, but take away what clientele we had, and the people we had working, and it became un-doable.”
Downtown salons have been impacted also as seen by the frequent change in shop names and locations.
However, although turnover in ownership isn’t uncommon, the shops, albeit short-lived, continue to open.
Bars, too, are not immune to the tough times, either. Arena Sports Bar and Night Club was a surprising loss to some. “Every time you’d go in there it was packed,” according to Brandon, a third-year economics student. “I don’t know what happened there.”