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A troubling trend: Fourth vehicle in ten years plows through storefront on Willy Street

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MADISON (WKOW) -- After an SUV plowed through the store front of the Change boutique on Williamson Street Monday morning, business owners in the area who have gone through similar situations are asking for change.

Change owner Nikki Anderson dug through the rubble of her store on Monday morning trying to salvage whatever she could before city officials shut the building down for repairs.

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The hood ornament of the vehicle that crashed into the Change Boutique on Monday morning. (Photo: Ward Jolles, WKOW)

"At 8:00 I woke up and was completely shocked and I'm still in shock," Anderson said. "I woke up to so many messages of people saying 'I'm so sorry,' and I was like — what happened? My kids are here, are my parents safe?”

Friends and workers at her building joined in on the effort and scrambled to save whatever they could. Building manager Eric Kramer helped shovel up some of the rubble left behind.

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Anderson's friend helps her pack up some things from the store Monday morning. (Photo: Ward Jolles, WKOW)

“This just really made it difficult for her," said Kramer. "So I'm just here to try to ease the process for her."

The crash is just the latest in a series of the crashes on the prominent Madison street. Since 2012, four vehicles have crashed into businesses on Willy Street.

Visible from the Change store front is the Thai food restaurant Ha Long Bay, a business hit by a vehicle in 2018.

"I was in shock," said Jean Tran, owner of Ha Long Bay. "I didn't know what to think of because the SUV — half of the SUV was in my building."

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An SUV in rubble at Ha Long Bay in 2018 (Photo: Ward Jolles, WKOW)

Stephanie Rearick, owner of Mother Fool's Coffeehouse down the street says her business has been hit by three different vehicles over the past 20 years.

"It's a huge deal to recover from something like this," Rearick said. "You lose business, you have to remodel all of a sudden, so I really support all kinds of traffic-calming measures."

Rearick said the biggest issue is dependency on vehicles and encouraged people to consider riding bikes instead.

"And there are traffic-calming things like planting planters, like engineering roads to be a little windier, like having parking on the street," Rearick said. "And also things like more biking."

Police say the driver of the SUV that hit Anderson's business told officers that he was trying to swerve to miss colliding with another vehicle, but hit the boutique instead.

Anderson says she's just grateful no one got hurt. She's hoping to set up a pop-up boutique somewhere while the city works to repair her store front, a process officials say could take months.

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Anderson says she's hopeful that the community will come together to help her during her time of need. (Photo, Ward Jolles WKOW)

"I am hopeful, I am," Anderson said. "I don't know how exactly we're going to modify or change things, but I know we'll land on our feet."