Boutique owner blames construction for closing her store on Main Street

Julie Groll, owner of Vintage West Boutique, 441 Main St., says her store can’t survive the severe drop in customers because of the Downtown Uplift project. “I’m tired of being polite and positive about it,” Groll says. “Nobody wants to tell it like it is, and if they did, maybe people would be down here supporting business.” She plans to close the boutique’s doors April 1 and move to Arizona.

The result of the Downtown Uplift project isn’t worth waiting for if you won’t be in business at the end.

Those are the parting words Julie Groll, owner of Vintage West Boutique at 441 Main St., has for fellow retailers in the 400, 500 and 600 blocks of Main Street. Just five weeks into the second and final stage of the street construction project, Groll has decided to close her shop and move to Arizona.

The store has a tentative closing date of April 1.

“I didn’t even imagine it would be this bad,” Groll said of the drop in customers during construction. “If I’d been told this, I probably could have prepared more. I’m losing a fabulous store with amazing merchandise because no one’s willing to talk about it.”

Groll said the store experienced its share of pain as the local economy took a dive in 2009 and 2010, but Vintage West remained profitable. That is, until construction began. Groll said the store had $1,200 worth of sales in January and $78 in sales so far this month. With close to $5,000 in revenue and rent and utilities to pay, Groll said the store “can’t survive.”

“I’m tired of being polite and positive about it. Nobody wants to tell it like it is, and if they did, maybe people would be down here supporting business,” Groll said. “It has nothing to do with me being a good businessperson. It’s called accessibility.”

Accessibility is better now than it was during the first phase of construction, Downtown Development Authority Marketing Director Kathy Dirks said.

Fourth and Fifth Streets are open, a crosswalk has been placed in the middle of the 400 block, and another is being placed in the 500 block next week, she said.

Dirks said January and February usually are slow months for retailers, especially during cold weeks such as the past two.

“But most businesses seem to be holding their own,” Dirks said.

She said businesses affected by construction have told her they are attracting customers by having Valentine’s Day sales and improving their back entrances for people parking behind their buildings. Thirty-one businesses are participating in a weekly gift-certificate drawing for customers.

Dirks said Vintage West is the only business in the construction zone that has informed her it will be closing.


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