Western Avenue merchants asks shoppers for help to survive roadwork
Business owners in the Crown Heights area of Western Avenue say they need the community's support more than ever with ongoing construction that has completely closed off several blocks of the street this week.
The Western Avenue Association has launched a new marketing campaign called "Taking Care of Business" to urge people to eat and shop on Western Avenue as the businesses deal with ongoing roadwork in the area.
Most of the businesses rely on street access and foot traffic to survive, said Rachael Taylor, executive director of the Western Avenue Association.
"The complete stop of traffic to their area — even for a week — is just devastating," Taylor said. "At this moment in time, the businesses on Western are in need our extra attention."
Theresa Beck, co-owner of Beck's Garage at 4217 N Western, said the goal of the campaign is to give small business owners on Western a boost to help them get through this rough patch while the street is closed for resurfacing.
"It's kind of a rallying cry — if you need your oil changed or some brake work done this week, don't take it to a national chain, bring it to us," Beck said. "If you need a gift, shop here. If you want to eat at a restaurant this week, choose one or more of the local restaurants here on Western."
42nd Street Candy Co. isn't selling many gift baskets or chocolate bars this week with the block of Western Avenue closed to cars.
Teresa Wall, who owns the candy shop at 4200 N Western, said she's had to dip into her retirement savings to keep the store open because of ongoing construction on Western over the past year and a half.
Other merchants on her street are also struggling, she said.
"Every single one of us here are small businesses," Wall said. "There is no cushion to fall back on, it's just the Moms and Pops here every day trying to make it work."
The stretch of small, locally owned shops and restaurants along Western in the Crown Heights area saw pedestrian traffic drop off in the area during construction on new sidewalks on Western between NW 41 and NW 46 that began in spring 2015.
After several delays, the sidewalk project was completed about a year ago, but city workers shut down this stretch of Western Avenue again on Monday for road resurfacing.
While Oklahoma City and its contractors initially told business owners on Western that the street would be closed only for a day and half, it now looks like the road could be shut down for three days or more, Taylor said.
Repaving the street is part of the same package of repairs to Western that included the new sidewalks, said Shannon Cox, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Public Works Department.
The city held off on completing the project last year at the request of business owners in the area in order to keep the street open for the holiday shopping season, Cox said.
Issues with the pavement in the area are making it necessary to close Western for a few extra days to complete the resurfacing, but Western is expected to reopen by Saturday, Cox said.
While Western Avenue is closed, people can still park in the surrounding neighborhoods and walk a few blocks, Taylor said.
For more information on Western Avenue's Taking Care of Business campaign, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1414758042164669/