June 22, 2005 in City

Business slows to crawl in work zones

By The Spokesman-Review

On Monday morning, Mike Crandell posted a new sign on the reader board outside Molly’s Family Restaurant, his Third Avenue business in downtown Spokane.

“City Officials,” it reads, “Can we close the roads and repave them on July 4th also?”

Crandell posted the sign after having to close Molly’s on his second-busiest day of the year – Father’s Day – due to construction on Third.

“I had to. I couldn’t even get into my own building,” Crandell said. “People couldn’t get into my establishment except through an alley. For the whole day, I lost about $2,000.”

That refrain is likely to be repeated many times over before winter, as millions of dollars worth of construction projects are either planned or under way throughout Spokane County. Though many business owners agree the work is needed, the loss of sales in the interim is hard to take as drivers find other routes.

On South Regal Street from 37th Avenue to the Palouse Highway, cars are restricted to one lane during weekdays. That has cut business at Jiffy Lube by about 30 percent, said Nick Mikoski, the manager. The business is located right in the middle of the construction zone.

“It’s pretty slow,” Mikoski said. In response, the business has offered specials, trying to attract customers.

However, he added, “it’ll be nice when it’s done. You just kind of put up with it.”

At The Hair Company nearby, owner Cheryl Bains agreed. She said her regular customers still come in, but her walk-in traffic has declined, perhaps 10 to 15 percent.

The construction might have one positive side effect, she said with a laugh: “They have to slow down, so maybe they’ll notice us more.”

Back on Third Avenue, Crandell said despite the lost business, the company doing the work, Eller Corp., has been responsive to business concerns.

“I realize it’s gotta be done and we’re all trying to work through it,” he said.

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