Posted 12/08/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Some local businesses are doing a bit better a month after the downtown reconstruction project finished and Main Street reopened, but there’s some concern not enough notice has gotten out that the work is done.
“Traffic has definitely picked up,” said Karen Vetsch, owner of the Farmer’s Daughter.
During the thick of the construction, First and Second Street were closed off, in addition to Main Street, which forced shoppers to park sometimes blocks from businesses or navigate tight alleyways.
“It was a nightmare,” she said.
While the slowdown has had its impact, many downtown business owners believe the construction deterred customers from the downtown area.
Vetsch said she believes the improvement in sales would be greater if more word got out that downtown is easily accessible again.
The local Chamber of Commerce has purchased a programmable electronic sign, which is currently being installed at the intersection of ND 40 and Second Street.
The hope is the sign will be erected and operational by next month and help get the word out.
Stephanie Tubbs, owner of Solar Flare, is closing her business and attributes it to a combination of factors, including the construction and the slowdown.
“It’s been a one-two punch there,” she said.
Tubbs’ lease is up at the end of December and she wasn’t able to negotiate satisfactory terms for the coming year.
She sought to relocate to another space, but she said the commercial properties in Tioga are overpriced.
The slowdown has also taken a lot of her business away.
“A lot of our clientele have left town,” she said.
Other business owners notice an increase in traffic since the official reopening of Main Street. Tim Joyce of Tioga Drug is among them.
“We’ve definitely seen improvement in our front-end sales,” Joyce said, referring to the retail items the store sells.
Christie Eide, owner of Shear Image, said there’s been some small improvement to her business.
“We have a few more stop in,” she said.
The downtown project was also compounded by the ND 40 construction, making access to the entire town inconvenient to shoppers.
Nyssa Grey, owner of the coffee kiosk Boomtown Babes next to the Cenex station, said she actually saw a decline in sales once the highway project was complete.
“The construction workers were a lot of our customers,” she said.
She also said she doesn’t think people are aware that the roads are open again and the habit of avoiding Tioga will remain in place until that changes.
“I think it’ll take time before things are back to normal,” Vetsch said.