Main Street businesses put rear entrances in forefront in their effort to lure shoppers

Ron Maupin, owner of A Haggle of Vendors Emporium in the 500 block of Main Street, takes advantage of a Downtown Development Authority grant to put a sign by his backdoor to help him weather the second phase of downtown renovation. Entry from the front of his store may be difficult during the construction.

Instead of waiting for jackhammers to begin peeling up the road and orange construction fencing to spring up, business owners affected by the next phase of the Main Street Uplift project are being proactive about planned wintertime construction.

Reconstruction will begin next week on two Main Street breezeways as part of the second phase of the project. Soon after the beginning of next year, full-scale construction will begin on the three affected blocks: the 400, 500 and 600 blocks.

Many stores along the route have back entrances, and merchants are sprucing up those exteriors as secondary entrances to invite customers inside.

“We’re going to paint the back door and have people come in from the back,” said Christina Caspari, co-owner of Tangle, which sells yarn at 525 Main St. “We’re actually working really hard on that.”

Caspari said she’s trying to stay positive about the upcoming construction, because the end product of a beautified street and new utility lines will be a boon to business.

But, she admits, the upcoming months will be challenging for the shopper traffic flow.

One alley slated for reconstruction is on the south side of the 500 block. A colorful United Way donor tribute placed there will be preserved and Art on the Corner sculptures that inhabited the spot will be returned there after construction is complete.

The other alley to face changes is on the north side of the 600 block, sandwiched between Shannon Optical, 618 Main St., and Office Furniture & Design Center, 634 Main St.

Breezeway construction will begin Oct. 4 and should be completed by mid-November. Utilities underneath the sidewalks must be upgraded and the areas will receive a face-lift of trees, benches and other features. Planners purposely designated the alleyways to be completed before street construction begins.

That could help shoppers parking behind businesses to easier access businesses from front in those three blocks. Roadwork is expected to start Jan. 3 and should end next spring.

In many ways, merchants in the 100 to 300 blocks of Main Street acted as the guinea pigs for the city’s first phase of the Uplift project.

Now, business owners all along the route are talking about what they gleaned from that experience, said Heidi Hoffman Ham, executive director of Grand Junction’s Downtown Development Authority.

“It’s been very encouraging,” she said. “They’re sharing stories.”

During the first phase, businesses on the west end sometimes partnered up, offering customers discounts for shopping at multiple stores.

As before, business owners will be given free parking tokens to pass along to customers who can use them in the city’s parking garage.

Many merchants in the 400 to 600 blocks are fortunate to have access through back doors, something that owners in blocks 100 to 300 don’t have. The DDA offers a 50 percent matching grant of up to $10,000 for any business that updates its facade, either in the front or back.

Ron Maupin, owner of A Haggle of Vendors Emporium, 510 Main St., opted to take advantage of that deal. Fresh paint in colors of hunter green and purple and a striped awning now grace the rear entrance. A sign out back advertises his business.

Although the back door is not aligned with a clear line of sight inside the store, Maupin said he may put a doorbell there to allow customers inside.

“I think it’s really nice,” he said, looking at the work. “I hope people follow suit.”


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