Pratt Business Owners Say Street Closure Hurt

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Downtown merchants in Pratt are glad to see at least one portion of Main Street reopened. But the pain of it being closed for much of the summer, still lingers for the lack of business. That loss of business is why many are asking the city for help.

"I'm thrilled it's open," merchant Sandy Decker said. "Oh, here comes a car, and a truck."

Decker, owner of "Sunflower Consignments," might ask you to excuse her excitement in finally seeing traffic drive by for one of the rare times all summer. "It's been very slow," Decker said. "My sales are down at least 50% because people didn't know we were open."

Since June 2nd, five Main Street blocks were closed as Pratt replaced their century old bricks with concrete.

Decker says she had to cut her employee's hours and for the first time in twenty years of business, had to borrow money for operational expenses. She says the movie theater across the street closed during the week because of the lack of traffic. "People just didn't come downtown because the street was closed off," she said.

John Havens downtown this Thursday, but he is typical of Pratt residents who are not willing to walk several blocks in 100 degree heat to shop. "I had a customer in this afternoon who said this is the first time she's been downtown since May," Decker said.

Decker figures since the city uses incentives to help attract new businesses to Pratt, maybe they could help longtime businesses hurt by the street closing. She's asking for a 50% reduction on city utilities over the next three months, to match the three month construction period.

"I think there are some things the city can do and which I, as a commissioner, would like to see them consider," Pratt City Commissioner Karen Detwiler said.

Now whether the city can, or will help, remains to be seen. But if nothing else, they want people to know that downtown is open for shopping and businesses are accessible once again.

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