Downtown Uplift attracts tourists, locals
Construction workers were sometimes a more common site than customers for the first five months of 2011 for Chris Brown, owner of Brown Cycles, 549 Main St.
Brown’s shop is located in the middle of the section of Main Street between Fourth and Seventh streets that was remodeled earlier this year during the second and final phase of the Downtown Uplift project. January and February are usually slow months for Brown, but he felt the combination of construction and bad weather were to blame for a continued lack of customers this spring.
As the weather improved, although temporarily, and the street reopened, Brown saw a distinct change in the number of people driving and walking by his shop, and more people stopped for a tune-up or to browse through bikes.
“It was like, ‘Human beings. Look at that,’ ” Brown said.
Downtown business owners vary in their accounts of first- and second-quarter sales. Some left before the end of construction, including Sunshine Wraps, 560 Main St., and Vintage West Boutique, 441 Main St.
Mesa Theater & Club, 538 Main St., shut down and focused on remodeling during construction.
Jes Dodson last week closed her store, Trendz, 455 Main St., but she said it had nothing to do with sales during or after construction. She’s turning Trendz into a home-based business.
A few businesses barely noticed the construction, including Summit Canyon Mountaineering at 461 Main St. The store’s corner location and easy access to parking behind, next to, and near the store in the Rood Avenue parking garage helped keep customers flowing into the store, according to sales associate Chris Capp. But even that store has seen more people walk in post-uplift.
“Once construction was completed, foot traffic definitely picked up,” Capp said.
Part of the influx in downtown visitors can be credited to the dawn of tourist season and the beginning of summer break occurring around the time construction wrapped in early June. But the reopening of the street can take at least some of the credit for increased sales, according to Mike Chariton, owner of Planet Wines, 420 Main St.
“It can only be detrimental to businesses to have a street be closed for five months,” Chariton said.
Some tourists don’t know Main Street has changed. But some are making the visit specifically to look at the new features and polished look.
Natasha Watts, co-owner of Seasons to Follow, 612 Main St., said she heard a handful of groups from other states have ventured to Grand Junction to get ideas for their own downtowns.
Apparently people like what they see here. Interiors Etc. Marketing and Sales Manager Kirk Granum said he has heard numerous compliments from customers at the 602 Main St. design and furnishings store. Even when tourists flock to tropical climates later in the year and leave Grand Junction behind, Granum expects locals to stay interested in downtown.
“People come downtown to get a pizza, play in the splash fountain and make an evening of it. There’s just more to experience downtown now,” Granum said. “I think the excitement will continue.”