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Remembering 118 years of Arenz Shoes’ business and service

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Sparta’s Arenz Shoes and Formal Wear owner proud of career, says it’s time to retire and focus on family
Arenz Shoes Closing

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) – All good things must eventually come to an end. It’s the end of an era for one family shoe business in Sparta after more than 100 years in the community.

Styles are never constant in the shoe business.

“Size and fit and comfort and function. Not so much fashion,” said Mike Arenz, owner of Arenz Shoes and Formal Wear in Sparta.

Businesses build new strategies to get people to open their doors. Since 1902, the one consistent sight in Sparta is the name on a store. The store owned by a family that’s made the shoe fit for 118 years.

“I was born and raised in Arenz shoes,” Arenz said.

Arenz has grown up within these walls.

“Forty-four years ago I was finally allowed when I was 16 to sell shoes,” he said.

He had big shoes to fill.

“When your name is on the front door and above the wall out there…and you don’t want to let your own name down,” Arenz said.

Ironically reputations are magnified in small towns. Arenz’s business has been a staple in the area starting in La Crosse.

“After that, went to Madison, Dubuque, Winona, Stoughton, and then they had outlying stores from that,” he said.

Retail has changed a bit in a century’s time.

“I have sold things on Amazon,” he said. “That has been part of my business the last few years.”

Shoppers still like a personal touch.

“A question can be asked here,” Arenz said. “You can’t just type on a keyboard.”

How does a business survive this long?

“I don’t know what the answer is to that question,” he said.

If he had to guess, it’s an algorithm of patience, decisions, and ability to fail.

“Oh yes. Yeah, there’s been mistakes that have been made,” he said.

Failure is the reason people succeed.

“As I’ve changed I think the store has changed too and that’s as it should be,” Arenz said.

His next decision is his biggest change yet.

“I’m the last Arenz that’s finally going to retire,” he said.

He sees it as an opportunity to make up for what he’s missed.

“Whether it’d be weddings, hunting trips, canoe trips with friends,” Arenz said. “Whatever it might be where you’re tied down to a business much like a farmer is tied down to their farm.”

He said people have been wishing his family well.

“People have been so supportive,” he said.

Mike’s name may be on the building, but he said his family is the most important part of his life.

“Arenz shoes is what I do,” he said. “It’s not who I am.”

Mike is a son, husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

“We’ve had many employees that have been with us for 20 plus years,” he said. “They’re family just like family is family.”

Arenz Shoes ties in with family.

“I’ve actually gotten phone calls from family I’ve never met that saw this online that we were closing,” Arenz said. “Their father or their grandfather had run one of the stores.”

He’s an owner who believes family comes first and now he will have the time to spend with his own.

Arenz said he already has a buyer lined up for the building. He also said the pandemic had no effect on his plans to retire.

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Garmin paid multimillion dollar ransom to hackers: report

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  • Garmin paid a multimillion dollar ransom to recover its data from hackers after they held the files for ransom, Sky News reported Monday.
  • The GPS company was the victim of a major ransomware attack last month that led to a multi-day outage of its services including its smartwatches and aviation products.
  • Garmin paid the money through cybersecurity firm Arete IR after the first firm they sought out turned down the job due to concerns about dealing with sanctioned individuals, according to Sky News.
  • The malware used against Garmin has been attributed to Evil Corp, a Russia-based hacker group that was placed on a US sanctions list last year, according to Bleeping Computer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

GPS and aviation tech company Garmin paid a multi-million dollar sum to hackers in an effort to recover data that the group had held hostage in a ransomware attack last month, Sky News reported on Monday.

On July 23, Garmin’s services, which range from smartwatches to aviation products, suffered a major outage. Several days later, the company confirmed that the outage was due to a cyberattack.

Several media reports said at the time that the attack involved ransomware, a type of software custom-tailored to encrypt a company’s files until a ransom is paid, though Garmin did not publicly name the type of attack.

Bleeping Computer reported that Garmin had been targeted by Wastedlocker, a specific ransomware virus that is attributed to a Russia-based hacking group called Evil Corp, and that the group had demanded $10 million for the files.

Since the US Treasury Department had sanctioned Evil Corp last year following its cyber heist of more than $100 million from banks around the world, Garmin risked running afoul of the sanctions and incurring fines by paying the ransom.

The first cybersecurity company Garmin asked to help it pay the ransom turned down the job, citing the sanctions as its reason for refusing to provide its services in cases involving Wastedlocker, Sky News reported.

Garmin then turned to another firm, Arete IR, which doesn’t believe Evil Corp is necessarily behind Wastedlocker and ultimately worked with the company to help it pay the ransom, according to Sky News.

As media reports circulated last month naming Wastedlocker as the ransomware used against Garmin, Arete tweeted a link to a report it had published that claimed security research linking the ransomware to Evil Corp was “not conclusive.”

Garmin and Arete IR did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Batten Kill business owner says he’s not the slob | Local

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Drawn by the river

Swimmers were drawn in May to the Rexleigh covered bridge on the Battenkill near Salem. 




A businessman who runs a tubing company down the Batten Kill says his business is not contributing to the problems with partying and littering on the river.

Tony DiDonna, co-owner of Big Big on the Battenkill Kayak and Tubing, said four outfitters are usually running on the river, but only two are open this summer.

DiDonna’s customers park their cars at the Route 313 service road in Salem and start their tubing journey in Arlington, Vermont. His customers are not parking on private property or littering, he said.

Two Washington County supervisors asked the Sheriff’s Office last week to intervene because of complaints about littering, garbage and trespassing on private property along the Batten Kill in Salem and Jackson.

“We see it all the time,” DiDonna said. “We clean probably 80 percent of the garbage out of the Route 313 pulloff that is open to the public.”

No garbage cans have been put out in that area, he said.

DiDonna said he is now being investigated by the state Department of Transportation for picking up his customers on the New York side.

His customers are told to bring out whatever they bring in and not to park on private property, he said.

“That place is a complete mess from the public,” DiDonna said. “It’s got nothing to do with the outfitters that are in there.”

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New business in Cedar Rapids hoping metal demand helps it survive during pandemic

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – A new business opening Monday in Cedar Rapids said it is meeting a demand that is growing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Metal Supermarkets is located at 6805 4th Street Southwest. It’s the first Metal Supermarkets to open in Iowa. Leaders say metal is still in demand during the pandemic.

They sell things like cutting material, and will deliver it to a person’s job site. Leaders feel confident opening during the pandemic.

They say people are staying at home more and starting home projects, and that’s driving the metal demand. There’s also essential businesses like manufacturing that need metal materials.

“Manufacturing services of say a company that makes mask for example,” explained Rick Heller, President of the Metal Supermakets Cedar Rapids location. “If they have any type of equipment that goes down, they may need to purchase a piece of material to get their equipment back online. That’s where we come into play.”

Face masks for customers and workers is optional in their store. They will do curbside pickup. They have four people on staff and hope to expand in the future. They are reaching out to local companies about their business.

The business can be reached at (319) 382-2325.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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