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Southern Wisconsin businesses find new ways to reach customers

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DEFOREST (WKOW) -- Laura Hyke owns Karate America in DeForest. As she watched the news the past couple weeks, she knew her business was about to take a hit.

"Me and the staff sat down and said, 'We think this is going to get worse, so what can we do?'"

The answer was online classes. Many of Hyke's clients are school-age children now at home, so she's trying to reach them through daily lessons.

"Each day we send out modules that has a lesson plan, fun ideas, physical challenges, fun games, videos, all sorts of things to keep the kids on their karate track."

Down the road at Jump Around Gymnastics, owner Ben O'Neill is in a similar situation. He is now offering his clients free lessons online to keep them engaged in his business.

"We're trying to provide some entertainment and some engagement from our customer base and anybody else who wants to do gymnastics with us."

So far, the concept has gone over well.

"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from our customer base. They've been really excited to have something for the kids to do."

In Waunakee, Kari Heller and her husband, Mike, opened Red & White Winebar in December. With a shutdown looming, they came up with an alternative plan this week.

"It just kind of came to us," says Kari with a smile. "Carpe Vinum: Seize the wine."

In addition to offering curbside orders, Red & White Winebar is launching a wine club to keep the young business moving forward. Heller says customers will be able to sign up for the monthly wine club through their newsletter list on their Facebook page.

"Another way for people to be able to support a small business and it trickles too. It trickles to where we get the wine and the wine makers."

Heller echoes the sentiments of many local small business owners in saying it's concerning to face such a level of uncertainty. However, she remains optimistic.

"We're all in this together, and I feel like when we come out of it on the other end, it's just going to be a great coming together of the community."

Chase McNamara

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