Union Street Businesses Struggle Even in New Locations

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West Union Street businesses, displaced by a fire in 2014, continue to face problems even after moving to new locations.

Construction has forced a lane of the street and much of the sidewalk to remain closed discouraging customers from shopping at businesses across the street.  And  Mary Cheadle, the owner of Uptown Dog, a tee-shirt shop, is still working with her insurance company on a settlement.

“We were working with no power, no heat, no water, no bathrooms in a soaking wet building with smoke from the fire, moving all of our wet inventory and going through everything piece-by-piece in order to get some insurance coverage,” she said. “It was pretty awful.”

Cheadle was forced to move her business across the street, reopening in the new location three months after the fire. But regaining customers hasn’t been easy.

“Whether you can actually get them back or not is key into whether or not you can survive,” Cheadle said. “They got used to us being closed and not being here so whether they shopped anywhere else or not, they didn’t necessarily know when we reopened.”

Uptown Dog sells tee-shirts and prints custom orders.  The retail part of her business has taken the biggest hit during the ongoing construction.

“No one is walking down the street and if they can avoid it they will,” Cheadle said. “We have Sibs Weekend and have big hopes for Mom’s Weekend this weekend but the daily sales are definitely affected by all that’s going on here.”

The construction made it difficult for Meredith Allen to spread the word about her lingerie and adult store, Honey, which opened in July of 2015.

“The construction kind of detours people from walking down the street so we didn’t have a lot of people walking down the street while we were setting up to notice us,” Allen said. “Some days we’ll have times where nobody comes in and it’s hard to not get down but hopefully it’ll be over soon.”

Allen previously worked at Kismet, a boutique on West Union destroyed by the fire.

I was excited to be opening my business on Union because that’s where we started,” she said. “I’m glad to be a part of getting it back together.”

The lack of foot traffic has forced businesses to find novel ways of exploiting their problems. GoodFella’s Pizza offers the ‘Construction Special’ – a slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza for $1.75.

New Pizza PicAllen has partnered with Power Gamma and Moonstruck Burlesque to promote her business through University events. Uptown Dog’s approach to maintaining customers is to keep prices low.

“We’re trying to job it out and not raise prices on our good customers, so we’re actually taking a loss there,” Cheadle said.

Despite the complications, Cheadle’s desire to revitalize Union Street has inspired her to start a second business in the old location.

“I want to be a part of how great this street is going to become after this historic fire,” she said.