Claremore Daily Progress

June 20, 2013

Businesses feel financial crush

J. M. Davis Boulevard construction has impacted several businesses

Salesha Wilken
Claremore Progress

CLAREMORE —

Several small business located on J.M. Davis Boulevard in Claremore are asking for help after road construction has critically impaired sales.
Renee Hairston, owner of Make It Special along with Shawn Weaver, owner of The Bottle Shack, Wade and Sally Faust, owners of the Rusted Rabbit and Todd Dost, owner of Cotton Eyed Joes Barbeque made an appeal to the Claremore City Council Monday asking for relief from the construction.
“This is not Wall Street this is Main Street and we have to support our local businesses, they are the backbone of what makes Claremore, Claremore,” said Claremore City Manager Jim Thomas.
Hairston asked the council for options, stating the impact on the businesses has been significant.
The council is not permitted to provide financial support to the business; however, members showed significant concern for the business owners.
Each owner reported losses to the council, many averaging $2,000 to $3,500 weekly.
With construction slated to continue for another month, the businesses are concerned about how they will meet financial obligations.
“We have made cuts, we have cut staff,” Dost said.
Cotton Eyed Joes Barbeque has all been cut off from public access, Dost reported.
The Bottle Shack, Make It Special and The Rusted Rabbit have felt the impact, as many customers do not know they are open during the construction, according to the owners.
Weaver and Hairston both said it took them two years to regain business after moving locations a few years ago. They are concerned about the long-term impact the construction will have on sales.
To make the situation more difficult these business are being hit during the busiest season — summer.
Hairston requested a reprieve from the city’s sign ordinances to help direct customers throough the construction.
Claremore City Clerk Sarah Sharp was sympathetic and assured the businesses they would not be penalized.
Sharp and Thomas encouraged the owners to put up more signage, although the city has no authority to help pay for the additional expense. The city will be assisting with directional signage, although they will not be able to provide personalized signage. 
“This is temporary and I encourage the public to go out of their way and support these business,” Thomas said.
Construction access is available on J.M. Davis although signs may appear to have completely closed the area, according to Hairston. Customer access is only closed to Quick Trip, she added. The alley way behind Make It Special and the Rusted Rabbit is open to provide additional access to customers.
Weaver has added construction sale signs to his business in an effort to bring in more customers.
Dost reminds customers that they can access Cotton Eyed Joes Barbeque on Archer Street, despite signs that say “closed to thru traffic”.
One of the frustrations is that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation failed to notify them of the pending closure, Wade Faust said. The lack of notification and six-month delay in the start of the project has increased the burden, according to Dost.