KFnet in T-Town

Jan. 18, 2013 at 9:02am

How to Survive During Downtown Construction


Local businesses are feeling the heat of streetscape construction. This time down along Pacific Ave. This has happened before and it will all happen again. Did we already forget the same complaints generated by Broadway LID construction?

There always needs to be a balance between what the City does and what businesses do to survive the rumble of jackhammers and lack of parking in front of their establishments. The City should always keep local shops well informed about nearly each step in construction only a daily basis. Use email or a blog to keep the information flowing so businesses know how to prepare.

And businesses, how do you prepare? Does your business plan include rainy day funds for lean times due to any outside cause, construction or otherwise? How well have you cultivated your fan/customer base and how can you best call upon them during lean times? Use social media to the best you can to get the word out about sales or special events. Heck, make the construction a special event and change up your hours to be open when the jackhammers are silent.

What other advice do folks have for downtown businesses coping with construction (now and in the future)?

comments [19]  |  posted under business, construction, downtown, tacoma

Comments

by KevinFreitas on 1/18/2013 @ 9:18am
Halley on Facebook has a great piece of advice:

Be open during their posted hours! Consistently! For some of these, it's not the construction keeping me away, it's having to play the guessing game of "will they or won't they be there?"

by KevinFreitas on 1/18/2013 @ 9:37am
From Melanie Manista-Rushforth via Facebook:

Attended a class at Expand Yoga last night, right in the center of the mess. There must have been 40 of us there. How did we all manage to make it there, through construction? Because we wanted it.

Booyah!

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 9:44am
 " Does your business plan include rainy day funds for lean times due to any outside cause, construction or otherwise?" 

This is a little naive. These construction messes could cost a small business $5000 per month in lost sales, easily. Multiply this by the 10 to 16 month construction requirement and you have upwards of $80K lost revenue. Doubt if a lot of small businesses are going to be sitting on a $80K "rainy day fund." The opinions I see on facebook and here at feedtacoma are typically from people who have never run a business and wouldn't have a clue how to run one. But they are good for getting the day off with a laugh.

by KevinFreitas on 1/18/2013 @ 10:14am
So, what other ways (business plan or otherwise) should a business prepare for construction, slow economy, foul weather?

My point is that stuff/shift(?) happens and any smart business owner shouldn't be blind to that -- especially with construction since that's something you should see coming and can plan for. So what would you do?

by cisserosmiley on 1/18/2013 @ 10:36am
The bit of advice about adhering to posted open hours is great, I wish folks would ALWAYS adhere to posted open hours down there.

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 12:24pm
Businesses should adhere to posted hours. That doesn't have anything to do with the Pacific Avenue reconstruction IMO.

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 12:40pm
  "So what would you do?"

I would try to renegotiate my lease down to a much lower rate.

Then I would lay off practically my entire staff assuming I had employees. 

 Then I would try to warn other similarly situated business owners that the Tacoma City Council has a culture of ripping out perfectly good streets to give life to their utopian wet dreams and the business owners should exercise great caution in investing capital in Tacoma.

by KevinFreitas on 1/18/2013 @ 1:14pm
"...renegotiate..." Sound idea. Perhaps even asking a building owner to defer rent even partially for a few months during construction.

"...lay off..." Sometimes required during lean times to keep a business afloat.

"...warn..." Did you think the Broadway LID improved a section of downtown? I lived down there for a year and loved walking, biking, shopping and eating/drinking down there. Pacific Ave. improvements will do similar to an an area that needs a much better streetscape. Traffic calming will do wonders for the 900-1700 blocks on Pacific among other improvements.

Aside from that, I'd say the best warning any existing biz could give a newbie startup is to pass on knowledge of gotchas about doing business in Tacoma or even in a particular space.

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 1:51pm
Broadway LID?

I dunno, are there a lot of thriving businesses on that street that weren't there before? I'm just asking, I really don't know.

Here in the Proctor neighborhood they put in a stamped concrete intersection ( cost about $250K) that caused massive traffic disruption for about 2 months. I lost about $10K but the decorative improvement was supposed to be a great attraction for shoppers. I haven't noticed any difference in shopping patterns since the "improvement." The stamped concrete looks nice but so what?

by KevinFreitas on 1/18/2013 @ 2:06pm
Having lived on Broadway for a year I think it's got a good life and variety of shops. I agree though there are probably better ways to calm traffic than some different street bricks. 6th Ave tried a lower-tech street calming circle at Art on the Ave a few years ago where they painted a mural in the intersection. It quickly faded into nothingness due to the cars driving on it.

Overall, if the Pac. Ave. improvements are anything like the Broadway LID (sounds like they'll be better, imo) it should be great. Plus, you'll be happy to know, the trees that were tearing up the sidewalk are being removed in favor of ones that will be properly contained so that doesn't happen!

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 2:13pm


Ha, well if I'm still alive in 20 years I'm going to go down to Pacific Ave. so I can see firsthand those trees that will not tear up the sidewalk.  

by JesseHillFan on 1/18/2013 @ 2:30pm
I hope that I'm still alive in 20 years too so that I can chuckle at $20 or $30 per gallon gasoline and the remaining motorists.I will enjoy the back to nature street trees while I can still get around in my human powered hybrid electric vehicle.Good to see that the trees are now being considered to be contained (good compromise).

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 2:36pm


I wonder if you will find humor in the high price of gasoline the day you call for an ambulence and they tell you it's going to take a couple of hours to come to help you because they have a pedal powered ambulence. I'm sure you will be chuckling. Not because of the high price of gasoline but because of the irony.

by JesseHillFan on 1/18/2013 @ 3:11pm
Unlike my ICE motorist street brethren I have much less need because as I do active travel I keep in shape unlike the sedentary (obesity,diabetes and cardio-vascular problem) passive travel people.I've never had to call an ambulance in my life so far unlike my passive travel neighbors

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 3:28pm
I can see into the future.

Some day you will stop being an "in shape" person. At that point you will be in increasing need of services provided by folks driving internal cumbustion powered service vehicles.

by Jesse on 1/18/2013 @ 3:34pm
I was at the car museum last weekend and they had an electric car from 1914 that has a range of 200 miles.  Granted it probably only went up to 20-30 mph, but geez.... It's been almost 100 years and the Nissan leaf only goes up to 70 miles on a charge.  Wtf???

by JesseHillFan on 1/18/2013 @ 3:35pm
Not me.My dad kept active until he died at the age of 83 and my mother does 2 miles per day walks and she is 86 years of age.My sister (older than me) does those 10 or 20 mile runs as a jogger daily so she is even much more athletic than I.

by fredo on 1/18/2013 @ 4:05pm
You're a healthy guy, that's good.

But you should wear a necklace that clearly reads:

 IN AN EMERGENCY, DON'T CALL AMBULENCE, I DON"T BELIEVE IN INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINES

by JesseHillFan on 1/18/2013 @ 6:12pm
Why should I it will never happen.When the time comes I'll be dead of old age and no need for super expensive ambulance services which would be a financial hit against my estate and my family which will inherit it.

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