Dane Co. businesses facing difficult first months of 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic still hurting the local economy, Dane County has already seen closures or businesses selling in the new year.
Published: Jan. 3, 2021 at 9:38 PM CST
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DANE COUNTY, Wis. (WMTV) - The holiday rush is over and small businesses are facing a difficult 2021. The beginning of the year is usually very slow for businesses, but with local retailers and restaurants still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some worry they will not make it through.

Already one business has put their location up for sale in the new year. Buck and Badger on State Street cited the pandemic and unrest during the summer as part of why they feel they have to sell.

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Posted by Buck & Badger on Thursday, December 31, 2020

NBC15 reached out to Dane Buy Local and Food Fight Restaurant Group who said this could be the first in a string of closures. January and February are always some of the worst months for business.

“People tend to stay at home, and especially with the weather we experience here,” said Dane Buy Local Executive Director Colin Murray.

Murray said businesses usually save up money to get through the first months of the year, but many were unable to during the pandemic.

“They’re really very nervous,” Murray explained.

Local retailers were counting on a strong holiday season to give them the boost they needed. Customers came out to show support, but in some cases, it was not enough.

“I heard from one business owner down on State Street, he said I’m down to the point now that I can either save my restaurant or I can save my house,” Murray described.

Restaurants are also struggling. Food Fight Restaurant Group managing partner Alex Felland said all the group’s restaurants have to keep inventing new ways to attract customers.

“Trying to put a little bit more thought into separate menus, take and bake menus,” Felland explained, listing just a few ideas.

There is some good news on the way. A new round of Paycheck Protection Program loans will be available from the federal government.

“Not the best situation but it’s been a little bit of a life saver for sure,” Felland said.

However, that can only help so much.

“It’ll make up for some of the gap short term, but it’s not something that’s going to last very long,” Murray said, adding the last round only lasted a few months.

Murray said local businesses will need more long-term government assistance to survive.

“For some of those businesses, it’s just, they’re gonna have to pull the plug,” he said.

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