January closures part of economic ‘churn’

The signs at Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard are covered with plastic and paint or are missing entirely since the fast food burger stand in the Teller Arms Shopping Center closed.

The menus have been torn from the drive-through lane’s lighted boards, the sign hovering over North Avenue painted over and the logo veiled at Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard.

The drive-through restaurant at 2301 North Ave. is one of a small but growing list of local establishments to throw in the towel after the consumer-friendly holiday season. Ashley Furniture Homestore is also on that list after announcing earlier this week it will close stores at 656 N. First Street and 2958 North Ave. as well as a store in Montrose. Paco’s Tacos at 1133 Patterson Road shut its doors during New Year’s weekend, and Arts and Antiques of Palisade, 101 W. Third St., did the same. Mesa Mall stores f.y.e., Rave and Teddy Bear Stuff’n Factory will close by the end of the month.

Reasons vary for why a business closes in January, just as with any time of the year, and calling January closures a trend may be an exaggeration. But there are characteristics of the month that can make it a prime time to shut down, Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Diane Schwenke said. For example, fiscal years often begin Jan. 1, meaning businesses may re-examine whether it’s worth putting together or going through with another year’s budget around this time.

The end of the year is a common time for struggling businesses to say, “‘Let’s see how our holiday season is going and see if it will carry us through the months that aren’t so good,’” before making the decision to close, Schwenke said.

The seven Chamber ribbon cuttings scheduled for new or relocated businesses this month have given Schwenke hope for the first month of 2011. Schwenke said the closures of some businesses are unfortunate, but she’s happy to see some businesses opening at the same time, especially since there was only a single ribbon cutting in January 2010.

“We tend to see that churn happen fairly regularly,” Schwenke said of closings and openings in the New Year. “I prefer what we’re seeing in 2011.”

Sometimes a wintertime closure isn’t about the economy or a budget cycle. It was the cold weather heating bill that led Steve Neff to close Arts and Antiques of Palisade. Heating the old building that housed the antiques store and still houses Mumzel’s Crumpets, Cups and Cones resulted in January and February bills so large last year it took Neff until midspring to pay them off.

“We couldn’t afford it anymore,” Neff said. “It wasn’t the economy, it was the weather that killed us.”

Lease deadlines contribute to January closures at Mesa Mall, according to Mesa Mall Marketing Manager Jammie McCloud. Leases are often up Jan. 31, so a store that doesn’t want to miss the holiday season rush, which is nearly every store, will wait until January to announce they’re completing their lease and moving on, she said.

“Turnover is a natural part of shopping center evolution, and Mesa Mall is no different,” McCloud said. “We have strong interest in someone leasing the (former) theater space, and there are other leases in the works for outer spaces.”

Schwenke said she has heard from restaurants that this time of year can be difficult because people cut back on eating out when bills from the holidays come due in January. Good Times President Boyd Hoback said Friday the franchise owners of the Good Times in Grand Junction closed the restaurant because of consistent “low volume” of customers. Hoback said the restaurant may someday return to the area with different owners and include indoor seating and dining rooms.

As far as what’s happening at Ashley Furniture, Schwenke said the planned arrival of American Furniture Warehouse this year probably had the biggest impact of all.

Attempts to reach an owner or manager Friday at Ashley Furniture were unsuccessful. The store began its liquidation sale Thursday.


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