Salmon Arm businesses share the challenges of being adjacent to the underpass construction site – Salmon Arm Observer

The frequent rattling of glass bottles can sometimes be unnerving, says Jan Jones, manager of the Salmon Arm Liquor Store.

However, Jones said she has by and large grown accustomed to the commotion caused by the ongoing construction of the Ross Street underpass.

“When they did the sidewalk here, I actually left work a little early,” she said, referring to the work being done right outside her office window.

Although much of downtown was affected by the construction of the underpass, the liquor store at 111 Lakeshore Dr. NE is right next to the construction site. The road in front of the store was destroyed. The parking lot on the east side of the store is now part of the construction site. And metal fences were erected in front of the liquor store and surrounding businesses.

The overall impact hasn’t been good for business, Jones said.

“We lost a lot of customers,” she said. “We found out that some of them are going down to our partner store, The Hideaway, so that’s good news, but it’s still not good news for us here…

“It hurts a lot. You can’t compare it to the last two years because with the Covid, we saw such an increase in alcohol sales that it was easy and I didn’t have to market the store as much. But now, with the construction, our sales are so down.

To make up for the loss, Jones said she was working on expanding the business, looking to be a supplier for different types of catered events. Their first was to be a comedy show at the Salmar Classic on April 8.

To encourage customers to stop by, Jones said the liquor store is offering a trip to Mexico.

“We did a 16 week raffle for a trip to Mexico and we did that two weeks ago and it was something to entice customers to come… We will have more exciting things to come,” said Jones.

Across the torn road from the liquor store is Shuswap Pawn, another downtown business next to the construction site. For months, much of the parking lot in front of the store has been used as a construction staging and storage area. In December, the driveway directly in front of the store was demolished as part of the project.

“December is usually my busiest month and it was my worst month of the whole year,” said Shuswap Pawn owner Mike Jalving. “In December this whole driveway was destroyed, you could barely get to the store… They said you could get to it, but it was a little goat trail. Foot traffic was 50% less than any month of the year so it sucked. I’m still in shock. I usually get good sales in December – that gets you into January and February.

Jalving said with construction and a lack of parking, there were fewer customers coming through its doors. To try to make up for the loss, Jalving and his wife Tanya started a new business: Wild Soap Co.

“The last two years have really put me in entrepreneur mode. What should we do?” said Jalving.

“The kids are moving out so we have more space in the house, so we’re doing a soap studio. People are still looking for natural products every year, every day.

Jalving has Wild Soap Co. products for sale at Shuswap Pawn while they create a website and offer it via social media. He also wants to get involved with the downtown Salmon Arm Farmer’s Market.

Nearby on Alexander Street, staff at Rikki Lou Who’s Gift Emporium and Head Gamez Hair & Company had their own construction-related challenges, such as products falling off shelves and a clock falling off a wall. The biggest issue for owner Rachele Spanier, however, is how construction and shrinking parking spaces have kept people away.

“We’re not getting the walk-in visits that we normally would,” Spanier said. “We don’t get buyers because they just don’t care. They go downstairs and get everything they need and walk out. They don’t spend the day downtown.

The city expects Lakeshore to be open in July and August. The contractor hopes that the roadway will be leveled and paved for the opening. Spanier hopes this will help drive a little more traffic and make summer a little more normal.

“Parking would be my biggest priority for downtown,” Spanier pointed out. “It’s like they don’t want us to succeed here, and that’s under normal conditions. It pushes him.

Jones tries to look to the positive.

“I think as soon as the underpass is completed, business will be back to normal,” Jones said. “I am really grateful that they are building an underground passage. I talk to everyone and that’s a good thing. It’s just that right now it’s not.

According to the city, the Ross Street Underpass is expected to be completed in early 2023.


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Alice F. Ponder