By Josh Johnson
Wired Cafe celebrates five years downtown on Friday with “Party in the Alley” and Tuesday we were able to sit down with Shanna Hill for a few moments to talk about the changes she has experienced since the opening.
In July 2010 Mother/Daughter trio, Crystal Douglas, Shanna Hill and Maggie Douglas opened Wired Cafe in downtown Rockford and say that five years later the business is doing well because of the people that support them and downtown Rockford.
“I used to manage a coffee shop, and Maggie used to manage a pair of them, and since we’ve always loved coffee we just decided to open a coffee shop with our mother. It is difficult at times but we’re a close family and when we do have disagreements we get over them quickly,” said Hill.
The downtown area has drastically improved in just the five years that Wired Cafe has been there, she says.
“The area wasn’t great when we opened, but we have loved watching downtown grow and flourish through both the increase in the amount of businesses as well as the improvements to the roads and area itself.
“Before we opened we could start to see where the area it was going and we liked what we saw, the potential in the area. It has been exciting to see the changes over the past five years and we’re looking forward to more improvements downtown.”
Like any other city of this size downtown has had its share of issues, but for a while downtown got a reputation that it was unsafe or even dangerous place to be, especially after dark.
“Downtown in the past has had that bad reputation for being someplace you don’t want to be late at night, but that is quickly changing. The reputation itself is changing and people feel safe spending the whole day down here and don’t worry like they have in the past.”
Like anyone who has run a business knows, the start is going to be a struggle before people learn about you.
“The first couple years were definitely a struggle,” said Hill, “but word has quickly gotten out about us, every so often we find someone who hasn’t heard of us but our customers word of mouth has helped us quite a bit.”
The increase of foot traffic thanks to events like First Fridays and City Market have been a strong boost for all the downtown businesses, who feel more like a team than competitors.
“There is a family feeling among business owners down here, we don’t feel like we’re competing for business we all just work together since in the long run it benefits all of us. Working next to Joe (D’Astice) at Woodfire has been very nice.”
“These last five years have been unbelievable,” the owners said. “The support we have received from the downtown community and the friendships we have made continues to amaze us. We have had a front row seat to the positive and exciting changes happening to the downtown and the growing downtown family. We look forward to the next five plus years.”
The celebration will feature music performed by Paper Airplane from 6-9 p.m., art by Alpaca’s Strike Again will be on display, the kitchen will remain open for food until 8 p.m. and a cash bar will be available provided by Kryptonite.
Wired Cafe is at 414 E. State St.