The Cost of Construction

Impacts of construction are not positive for all local businesses
Sunday, July 7, 2019
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Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo

Gaining access to The Enchanted Room on the corner of Meade Avenue and Towne Street has been challenging due to construction in that area. Summer sales have been negatively impacted, according to co-owners Laura Glueckert and Lisa Kelly.

While the number of construction projects around Glendive are a boon to many businesses in the community, the retail stores and food establishments surrounded by the work are experiencing the opposite effect.

Sales at businesses along Towne Street east of the bridge have suffered as potential customers find business access and parking frustrating.

The Enchanted Room is the most visibly impacted by the road and sidewalk work, as both sides of the store have been engulfed in construction work for weeks.

Sales at Enchanted Living, the sister store to The Enchanted Room located kitty corner from the store, have also been impacted, co-owner Lisa Kelly noted.

Business this summer compared to recent years has been “drastically different” she said.

Co-owner Laura Glueckert said every customer who makes their way into the store has commented about the construction and the difficulties they had finding parking or finding a way to walk in the front door.

They suspect many potential customers are detoured by the challenges of getting to the stores.

They knew the work was coming, but said they had no concept how much of it would be done directly around their store.

After a representative from Knife River stopped by the store to inform the owners of the work plans before construction began, Kelly said they sought further information from area officials and have since been kept well informed during the process.

As the summer sales season continues with no relief from the construction in sight, they have worked to find solutions to help their customers find them, updating social media more often as a reminder they are still open for business. Customers can access the store through the side door near the alley and Mid-Rivers has offered the use of their parking lot for ER customers.

While the last few months have been challenging, the Enchanted Room owners can see the positives behind the work being done. They are pleased to see infrastructure improvements in Glendive and know that having the construction crews in town is a boon for many local businesses.

“People are eating and buying gas and that’s a great thing,” Glueckert noted.

But Enchanted Room and Enchanted Living and their neighboring businesses aren’t among those reaping the benefits.

“I know that it’s good for other businesses, but it’s definitely not great for us,” Kelly said.

Trinity Bakery owner Charlene Townes has also felt her business suffer since construction work began.

“Even though I’m not blocked off, it’s like because of the construction, people aren’t sure where to park or where they can walk,” she said.

Once she realized the potential impact the construction could have on her business, she reached out to find out more information, even having her husband take complimentary baked goods to construction crews downtown.

She hoped her effort would also encourage the workers to stop in her business once in awhile, but she is disappointed that only one person from the crew has since supported her business.

The bakery will have to close for the two to three days it will take to replace the sidewalks in front of the store, something Townes said she can deal with, but if the construction takes longer than that, the impact on her business could be devastating, she noted.

For now, Townes, too, sees the benefits of the construction. She noted the current cracked sidewalks are especially dangerous for the community’s elderly.

“I know that it’s good for other businesses, but it’s definitely not great for us,”
Lisa Kelly, The Enchanted Room co-owner

“Once it’s done, it’s gonna be great,” she said.

Corner Coffee owner Vickie Crane said this summer she has seen days where her sales are down 30 to 50% compared to last year.

Her customers have expressed frustration about the distance they have to drive to get to her from different areas of town, and that they “never know what block is going to be blocked off.”

She even had one of her regular customers tell her that she wouldn’t be back until the construction is over, and Crane wonders how many others feel the same.

“People get easily flustered and they don’t like the inconvenience,” Crane said.

She suspects the construction crews also find her difficult to get to, as she hasn’t experienced an impact in sales from the temporary workforce in town this summer.

“For how many drive by in a day – hundreds – I might have one (stop in) in,” she said.

It’s the local resident that keep her business going and for that she is very grateful.

“I do appreciate that person that goes that extra mile to stop in. You know, it matters. If it’s a $3 cup of coffee, I’m excited to see them all,” Crane said.

While both corners of the sidewalk of his business are currently blocked off, Carl Barnick of Barnick’s Hometown Brand Center hasn’t seen the impacts that the business west of him have.

“As far as I know, people are still finding their way into the store,” Barnick said. “It’s a little harder, but most people find their way around.”

Barnick noted he also has a back door that customers can access through the city parking lot.

He tries to stay on top of finding out the current status of the work being done. When construction crews are working on the areas in front of his store, he takes the time to visit with them to better understand the day-to-day impact his business will see.

He said he was told the new construction will make the corners of his business four feet wider than they were previously.

“I talked to them about the sidewalk and they said they’re way behind schedule,” Barnick said.

In spite of the construction, Barnick said his sales are up this summer compared to last year. He is seeing some positive impact from the construction, with some of the city’s temporary residents coming in to his store to look for items like televisions and beds.

Business owners along the construction corridor are hoping that public awareness about their struggles will remind local residents to support them as they weather the storm of road work in the area.

Reach Jamie Ausk Crisafulli at rreditor@rangerreview.com .

“I do appreciate that person that goes that extra mile to stop in. You know, it matters. If it’s a $3 cup of coffee, I’m excited to see them all,”
Vickie Crane, Corner Coffee owner

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