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They get by with a little help from their friends

The front exterior windows of St. Croix Sport have messages directing customers to the north where the business has temporarily relocated on the south side of Total Excavating. <i>Phil Pfuehler photos</i>1 / 2
St. Croix Sport is still doing repairs at its makeshift location. Above, Luke Rose, mechanic, installs a new starter in an ATV. Behind him also working in the shop are Garrett Jensen and Mike Feyereisen.2 / 2

It's not like it was but, all things considered, it could be worse.

St. Croix Sport owners Chris and Linda Jensen still don't know what the future holds after their store/shop on Hwy. 35N was torched and closed by a Dec. 28 night fire.

What they do know is that, for now, they're back in business -- thanks to their good next-door neighbors at Total Excavating.

"It's not what we had, but it will have to work, and it's just great being open again," said Linda Jensen. "We wouldn't be where we are if it wasn't for the great support given by our friends, the Kusileks, the three different contractors who got us rebuilt, and everyone else who helped out...We have a huge following.

"It still feels numb. All that has happened is overwhelming, but it's getting better, especially now that we're up and running in this new, temporary space."

Chris Kusilek of Total Excavating made that new space for St. Croix Sport possible.

He proposed giving up two and part of a third of his six bays to St. Croix Sport so the space could be quickly converted into a showroom.

The Jensens jumped at the chance. Work to install plywood walls, doors, windows, outlets and carpeting started last Thursday and ended Sunday.

With that done, St. Croix Sport has a new place, even with its own entrance, on the south side of Total Excavating. There's a showroom, office space and a little shop in back.

"We're good friends, and this gets them going for a busy time of year," Kusilek said. "It's all pretty simple."

The irony is that the Jensens and Kusileks are back together, side by side in business.

Some 16 years ago they shared the building that became St. Croix Sport in recent years until last month's backshop fire. At the time, the Kusileks operated F&K Trucking and Excavating.

F&K -- now Total Excavating -- later moved to a new facility just north on the Hwy. 35N frontage road. Now the Jensens of St. Croix Sport and the Kusileks of Total Excavating are again under the same roof.

The Jensens will lease the roughly 35 by 52 square foot space to keep their business afloat until making a final decision about rebuilding.

Linda Jensen said that rebuilding hinges in part on how much insurance coverage they can recoup for their losses. Their burned-out building has yet to be deemed a "total loss."

For the complete story, please see the Jan. 10 print edition of the River Falls Journal.