BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – One of the joys of pedaling around the city is that it brings a different view of what else is going on that you normally don’t see on the main drags.
Sunday turned up four people working on the old drive-up bank building at the corner of 11th and Avenue G.
The building has been standing vacant since the early 90s, but now is getting a new pitched roof, some paint and a new life.
Micah Stewart, who recently moved back to the area from Springfield, Illinois was mowing the lawn Sunday afternoon, in anticipation of opening Cruiser’s Pet Grooming later this month, or in early July.
“It’s going to be more of a one-man grooming salon. We’re going to start very simple, slow, and then hopefully it will grow and we’ll be able to do more things. But we’re just being cautious right now,” Stewart said.
Cruiser’s can be reached by email at CruisersPG@gmail.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/cruiserspg for more information.
Stewart moved back to the area from Springfield, Illinois after the coronavirus shuttered his previous job at a veterinary clinic.
“With the whole virus thing, dog grooming wasn’t considered essential business so I just decided to move everything under one roof. They had bought this building for a different reason, a BBQ or something, and it wasn’t working out. I always wanted to open my own dog grooming business, so we thought this might work.”
The building is a former drive up facility for Iowa State Bank, and then State Central Bank before it was vacated. Stewart says the building is still very strong considering what it was built for. But he said the roof was a main concern and had some leaks.
On Sunday, a contractor was putting up prefabricated roof beams and installing a new pitched roof on the building, while Stewart’s fiance Madeline Cox and her mother repainted the lengthy planter on the properties south side.
While Stewart refreshes the building and fits it for the new venture, he’s working on city permits to get the work completed and the new business open.
“I’m hoping to have a soft opening this month yet, and if we can’t get it ready by then, we’ll look at something in July,” he said.
Aside from shoring up the roof and sprucing up the property, Stewart said location won’t require intense preparation.
“Pet grooming is such a simple business. We’re just leaving it with cement walls and cement floors. Painting it up a bit, but the roof is the main concern because it was leaking pretty heavily,” he said.
‘It’s essentially a bomb shelter the way it was built. It used to be a bank so there’s no real concern of it caving in or anything. It’s just a matter of finessing it at this point,” Stewart said.
His experience in working with animals is curvy tail from a degree in broadcasting from Western Illinois University. With his degree he landed a job at a marketing agency doing marketing and front desk operations for a firm that specializes in veterinary clinics.
From there he started helping groom the animals and found a passion for working with cats and dogs, and decided this would be a good time to start his own business.
He would be the only one staffing the boutique at the outset, but may have family helping out a different times.