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South Cliff Avenue Construction Complete

August 8, 2012, 4:55 PM by Perry Groten

South Cliff Avenue Construction Complete

Hopes of stronger sales are rising as the orange cones come down along a busy southeast Sioux Falls street.  Workers have finished rebuilding Cliff Avenue south of 57th Street in a project that should ease congestion in a rapidly-growing part of the city.  But with progress comes a price.   One business owner wonders whether the customers she lost during construction will ever return.
Drivers now have much more room to maneuver with a wider South Cliff Avenue.  But many drivers steered clear of the road work that started way back at the end of May.  That resulted in a big drop in customers at one liquor store that relies heavily upon drive-up business.

They can pop the champagne corks at the Liquor Mart now that construction on South Cliff Avenue is finished.

"My customers were coming in last night saying they're taking the cones down.  I said, 'We're having a party!'  I am so thrilled to see those cones come down," Liquor Mart owner Eileen Goodwin said.

Customers weren't exactly pouring into the liquor store during the road work.

"Probably cut our business in half.  Yeah, which is devastating to a small business," Goodwin said.

The liquor mart adjusted to the drop-off in sales by cutting its inventory in half.  Instead of ordering liquor and wine by the case, they ordered by the bottle.  The store has had to cut costs wherever possible to keep up the rent payments.

"Rent has fallen behind; I've had to go to my landlord and ask for his help and he has been very good about it.  He let me pay half and half later for July's rent," Goodwin said.

Sales were off to a record pace in May, but all that changed once the orange cones emerged in front of the store.

"Probably won't know for a good month or so if business will come back to where it was before the road construction began," Goodwin said.

Despite the economic uncertainty, Goodwin's spirits remain high.

"Keeping my fingers crossed," Goodwin laughed.

The summer months are typically the busiest time of year for liquor retailers like Goodwin.  She was hoping the road construction workers would stop by her store after work to pick up a six-pack of beer.  But she says that never happened.

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