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City to honor Bjorn with street sign
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City to honor Bjorn with street sign

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The unofficial “mayor of downtown” will get his due soon.

A resolution to subname Sixth Avenue from 56th Street to 57th Street as “Mike Bjorn Way” received unanimous approval from the Kenosha City Council Monday.

Bjorn, 72, died May 30. The likable businessman owned Mike Bjorn’s Fine Clothing & Museum, 5614 Sixth Ave., and was considered an instrumental part of downtown’s economic development.

“He was the mayor of downtown,” said Ald. Dominic Ruffalo, who served as the principal sponsor of the resolution. “It’s an honor for me to put this forward.”

Ald. Anthony Kennedy, who has a vast collection of Mike Bjorn ties, socks and suspenders, also expressed strong support of the resolution.

“When we talk about people who helped build this community, people who have character in this community, I think Mike Bjorn hits both of those things,” Kennedy said.

“I am honored to support ‘Mike Bjorn Way.’ I wish I had paid attention to my agenda so I could’ve worn one of my more flamboyant Mike Bjorn ties.”

Ald. Jan Michalski said Bjorn was more than just an eccentric businessman.

“He was a ray of hope for downtown when things weren’t looking good there,” Michalski said. “It was his faith in the district and downtown shopping area that made him open up his fine clothing emporium and museum and move it onto Sixth Avenue. He made downtown a destination it otherwise may not have been.”

A lifelong Kenoshan, Mike worked at Crystal’s Menswear and Mader’s Men’s Shop and taught art at St. Joseph High School before opening the store in 1981.

His store reflects his artistic talent; it is as much a tourist attraction for its décor as it is for its huge selection of both formal and off-the-wall attire.

The Bjorn name has a long history in Kenosha; Mike Bjorn’s great-great-great-uncle John Bjorn was the head of Jeffery Motors in Kenosha.

Kurt Schrader, general manager at Sazzy B, located across the street from Bjorn’s, told the Kenosha News the news of Mike’s passing was a shock.

“He has been a great friend of downtown, a great ambassador of downtown,” said Schrader, in a Kenosha News article published June 1.

Schrader called Mike a “pioneer” who was “one of the first to see the potential of the downtown area.”

“He was just a true, honest businessman, and it showed,” Schrader said.

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