Construction tough on business

Since the beginning of June, construction crews have been working on a $920,000 project to renew North Main Street near downtown Coupeville.

While the project will make a smoother ride for motorists, local businesses are feeling the effects of the detours and parking problems which limit access to businesses.

“We got the worst of it,” said Maureen Hummel, co-owner of the County Deli located at the corner of North Main and Seventh streets. Her business is located in the heart of the construction project.

She said, depending on the day, business has been down from 25 percent to 75 percent since construction started. She said employees have placed signs around town and have started offering a delivery service to help drum up business.

“People are avoiding things in Coupeville,” Hummel said.

She added her problems were compounded by county construction on Madrona Way, west of Coupeville. She said it takes her 30 minutes to get to work on Madrona Way even though she lives only a few miles out of town.

A neighboring business has also been affected by the construction.

“It’s still been a pretty rough ride,” said Brenda Marti, owner of Brenda’s Gift Gallery on Front Street. One of the biggest things affecting her business is the limited parking caused by construction. Even though there is public parking available near the library, many of her customers were accustomed to nearby parking.

For Marti, the road construction project is the second one that has recently hurt business. Business slowed when the town replaced the deck and stormwater outfall located next to the Knead and Feed.

She added she is waiting out the construction period and then will work to encourage people to visit downtown Coupeville when the project is finished.

The business outlook isn’t entirely bleak.

For a nearby bed and breakfast, losses from the construction project are minimal.

“We’ve lost very little,” said Dianne Binder, owner of the Anchorage Inn on North Main Street. She is also a member of the Coupeville Town Council.

Binder said three people wouldn’t stay at the inn because of the construction project but it’s full on the weekends. She said business has been below average for the year but she couldn’t say what is causing that trend.

Another business has been benefiting from the tourist traffic still flowing into Coupeville.

“We’ve been doing really well,” said Stephanie Wilson, manager of the Mad Crab restaurant on Front Street. “It’s not as bad as it could be.”

She said the tourist traffic, especially during Oak Harbor’s Race Week, boosted business while many locals choose not to make their way through the detours to get to downtown Coupeville.

“We’ve been getting complaints that it’s been an obstacle course getting here,” Wilson said. She added the Mad Crab has benefitted from the detours that help funnel traffic onto Front Street.

When the North Main Construction project began in early June, traffic was detoured over to Haller Street from Third Street and then down to Front Street. The majority of Main Street is open during evenings and weekends.

Coupeville Mayor Nancy Conard said the construction project is going okay. She said workers are busy finishing up the new curbs alongside the road and paving should begin the first week of August. She hopes workers will have the paving complete before the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival scheduled August 13 and 14. The project should be complete by Aug. 25.

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