Holding On: Merchants along project route deal with traffic dropoff

By KURT HAUGLIE

khauglie@mininggazette.com

HANCOCK – The reconstruction of Reservation and Quincy streets is causing disruption for drivers, and it is having a negative effect on businesses on the streets.

Rick Freeman, owner of Northwoods Sporting Goods on Quincy Street, said there has been a dropoff of business since construction began almost four weeks ago.

“We knew it was coming,” he said. “We adjusted our inventory down.”

Freeman said he increased the amount of inventory available online to compensate for the drop in the store’s traffic. The number of people calling the store to find out what’s available hasn’t changed, however.

There is a temporary wooden sidewalk in front of the buildings on Quincy Street, which Freeman said people are using. There is also a rear entrance for the building, which some people also use.

Work on the first section of construction on Quincy Street will last about another three weeks, but Freeman said he isn’t too worried about the overall effect it will have on business.

“I don’t think it will have a significant impact,” he said.

Freeman said his busiest time of year is in August, when people are getting ready for hunting season, and by then the construction will be well past the 100 block of Quincy Street where his store is located.

The Copper Country Community Arts Center is next to Northwoods Sporting Goods to the west. Executive Director Cynthia Cote said since construction began, there has been a dropoff in the number of people coming into the building.

“The gallery is quiet,” she said.

Cote said the construction workers have been as accommodating as possible for the center. The sidewalks went in as soon as the street was torn up.

“They didn’t miss a beat,” she said.

The vibrations from the construction machinery have caused some problems in the center, Cote said.

“We did move some things,” she said.

There has been a significant drop in foot traffic into the building, but it was expected, Cote said.

“We planned for that,” she said.

Because they knew the construction work was coming, Cote said the center’s board made plans to do some construction work in the building at the same time.

Cote said she’s looking forward to the new streetscape for Quincy Street when all the work is done.

“I’m really excited about this happening in Hancock,” she said. “I think it will be worth it.”

Ron Blau, owner of the Shottle Bop liquor store across the street from Northwoods and the art center, said there has been a significant dropoff in business since construction began.

“There’s no way around it,” he said.

Part of the dropoff has to do with the fact that people don’t always plan to go into the store.

“We’re kind of an impulse store,” he said.

However, Blau said, there are some regular customers who have continued to come in during the construction, and he appreciates that.

Another factor limiting foot traffic, Blau said, is the store has no rear entrance.

To compensate for the drop in business, Blau said, some changes have been made.

“We cut back our hours a touch,” he said.

Whatever business is lost during the construction will be lost for good, Blau said.

“You can never make it up,” he said.

Despite his concerns about the construction, Blau, who is a member of the Hancock City Council, said he understands the need for the work.

“The construction guys are doing a good job,” he said. “It’s going to be nice when it’s done.”