If residents want to preserve the unique flavor of San Marcos’ small businesses, they must be prepared to deal with the inconvenience of construction and continue shopping local.
Local businesses along one of downtown San Marcos’ busiest streets are being crippled by construction. The stretch of North LBJ Drive from The Square to campus is densely packed with some of the city’s most unique storefronts, yet poorly-timed construction has left it in a state of stagnation. The closing of Dan’s Discount Bookstore can be partly attributed to the slow-moving construction, and its neighbors Emeralds, Paper Bear and Rhea’s Ice Cream have reported noticeable declines in sales as well.
Dust, confusing detours, a lack of parking and fear of getting towed all contribute to the drop in business in the downtown area. The construction’s final result may benefit surrounding stores in the long run, but at its current rate, some of those shops might not be the same ones there now. Had the city completed the projects over the summer months, the downtown businesses would be ready for the yearly influx of students with new and improved infrastructure. However, construction is pushing well into the new year, leaving surrounding shops with another presumably slow summer following its eventual completion.
It definitely affects small businesses more dramatically than it does larger chains and franchises, though construction is not likely to completely ruin surrounding stores. This issue is evident around LBJ Drive, where parking spaces near local shops are sparse, and nearby chains such as Jack in the Box and Chipotle are relatively unaffected by the construction. The situation adds insult to injury for owners of small businesses who already face difficulty competing with national brands.
Small businesses across San Marcos, particularly ones on North LBJ Drive, need support. In return they can provide unique goods and services nearly impossible to find anywhere else, but only if sustained by local dollars. Granting property tax breaks to businesses whose parking spaces are destroyed by construction would be a reasonable show of support from the city. The task of keeping these businesses around ultimately rests on consumers’ money and storeowners devising new means to keep customers interested.
Residents should take advantage of services like the Go Local Card to provide further incentive to visit local businesses. Many bars, restaurants and entertainment outlets offer special discounts for cardholders. In addition, several Go Local Card participants in San Marcos are located in the same areas that have been plagued by construction for the past few months. A discount is more than enough to make up for spending the few extra minutes to find a parking spot on The Square.
Shops in the downtown area need support now more than ever. National chains are closing in on the city, and though they provide valuable goods and services, they do not belong in the heart of downtown San Marcos. Downtown construction is also destroying the hopes of many local small business owners, especially with the recent closing of Dan’s Discount Bookstore. The only way to keep local business alive and the city unique is to continue shopping local, even when faced with inconvenience.