Downtown construction has caused a local business owner to close the books on his North LBJ Drive store.
Daniel Mull, owner of Dan’s Discount Bookstore, said sales and customers decreased by 50 percent due to construction blocking part of North LBJ Drive, and closed his business’ doors Saturday.
“I was in denial for at least a month or two,” Mull said. “It was my brother who said ‘I am really worried about you because I’ve seen construction kill a lot of businesses.’ Then I realized he was right because I have seen the same thing.”
Mull said his decision to close the store was due to bad timing. He recently moved to Lubbock to pursue a math degree just before downtown construction began. Mull was visiting the bookstore every three weeks and left it in the hands of his family. Mull said this took a heavy toll and he knew he could not keep the store open.
Other local business owners on North LBJ Drive said they were aware of the construction projects, but did not anticipate the large affect they would have on their day-to-day operations.
Gilbert Gomez, co-owner of Royal Cleaners, said dropping off dry cleaning at his business used to be a breeze, but he now sees customers spending more time looking for parking than in the actual building.
Gomez said parking has been a manageable problem, but construction has claimed many parking spaces, leaving most customers circling around the block or parking in a tow-zone.
“We are lucky we have loyal customers who park two or three blocks to get to us,” Gomez said. “Some park near Frost Bank, or somebody would drop them off (in front of the store) then go around (the block) and pick them up.”
Gomez, who co-owns the family business with his sister Marty Salas, said his sales have dropped at least 30 to 40 percent due to construction. The business has managed to stay afloat by using its alley space as a drive-thru for dropping off and picking up dry cleaning, he said.
Gomez said downtown construction has caused a trickle effect. He said if customers are driving to eat nearby, they spend 10 minutes looking for parking, and soon they give up and go somewhere else. Gomez said this is why businesses along North LBJ Drive are not doing well.
Carol Powers, owner of Paper Bear, said she often finds her customers complaining about parking or only visiting the store because they found a parking space.
“With the hassle of having to pull out of a parking place and trying to get out of the downtown area, I think once people come in, they really don’t have a taste to come back again,” Powers said.
Powers and Cathy Natal, Paper Bear manager, said they are sad to see the bookstore leave because they know “when construction came, it hit (Mull) pretty hard.”
Julie Vrla, San Marcos resident, said she is sad to see a local business close. Vrla said the bookstore often offered unusual books national stores do not sell.
“I’ll miss getting to come by and see all of the neat stuff here,” Vrla said.
Powers said Paper Bear’s sales are down at least 20 percent, but has noticed residents making an effort to shop local.
Powers and Natal said they know their neighbors are hurting and try to encourage their patrons to visit other stores along the street.
“I know construction is only going to get worse,” Natal said. “Hopefully there will still be enough parking.”