It was in April of 2020 when the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce disbanded due to a lack of people choosing to serve on the board. At the time there were approximately 40 members of the business group, whose biggest undertaking was the annual Wiener & Kraut Day.
Three months ago, a new business organization began to take shape.
A pair of Waterloo business owners were the driving force for the creation of the Waterloo Business Association.
Samantha Hensler owns The Shop Salon & Spa in downtown Waterloo putting her business across the street from Waterloo Blooms, owned by Sarah Dahlke.
“Business flows from one to the other so I would say (to clients), ‘Have you seen the Waterloo Blooms?’ And then Sarah would notice people would walk on over to take a look. And she would do the same thing, saying ‘There’s a new salon open, you should take a look.’ People would just stop in to check it out,” said Hensler, who was elected president of the organization.
The pair talked in the spring about how great it was that the two were helping each other get more business and it would be even better if the local business community could work together to get customers to visit other Waterloo businesses.
“If a business wins in Waterloo then we all win because when you own a business in Waterloo you’re really vested in Waterloo and we all have that common purpose,” said Hensler.
The mission of the new organization “is to plan, partner or participate in a variety of efforts to foster sound growth and development for the community.”
As of last week, the Waterloo Business Association, which began having meetings three months ago, had 15 paid members, said Hensler. The yearly membership fee is $50 or $25 for non-profits.
“We’re really membership focused and trying to grow our membership,” she said. “And we’re going to offer some classes on social media and shop local campaigns.”
Businesses looking to join the group can sign-up at https://waterloo-wi-business-association.square.site/.
While the group has only been around for a few months, it will take on holding the annual W&K Day in September. When the Chamber initially folded, it was determined the city would be responsible for the event.
“We’re trying to raise funds and get donations,” Hensler said. “We’ll persevere and get Wiener & Kraut and we’ll be fine. It’s just difficult this year because we don’t have funds.”
For those wishing to make donations to the 2021 W&K Day, money can be mailed to Waterloo Business Association, PO Box 84, Waterloo, Wis. 53594.