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Uptown Marion businesses want people to know they are open during construction

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 5:46 PM CDT
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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - Ben Davis and his wife took over as new owners of the Marion Chocolate Shop, on Seventh Avenue, this year.

Davis said that with a pandemic and big construction project out their front door, it’s been an unprecedented one.

“As a new business owner, I’m kind of concerned about everything,” Davis said. “Obviously, every day is a little different with the construction. We’ve been within about 10% of our foot traffic from the first week we were open until about last week. The first week we were open was preconstruction and the second week was after it started.”

The Chocolate Shop is just one of the businesses impacted by fewer parking spots, and, at times, stores that might be harder to reach. Jeanne Matthews, who owns Uptown Snug, said the customers are still coming.

“I think coming out of the pandemic everybody was ready to get out, and be a part of the community again,” Matthews said.

The pandemic made business different with more to-go orders, and keeping tables apart at the Marion Alleyway also helped them get ready for this project.

“I think that the community helped vision it, along with the City Chamber, and Mainstreet District to have it be very well planned. That’s why we have the alleyway and the Uptown Artway,” Matthews said.

Both store owners are excited for the long-term outcome, but said that reaching customers, especially through social media, is going to be key.

“We’re working on adding a couple new things. We’re going to start doing some curbside pick-up,” Davis said.

Davis said they are also planning monthly meetings with business owners and working with Uptown Marion’s Mainstreet District to smooth out any issues.

“We’re doing a lot of updates on social media, so people can learn about the project as we go through it. We’re highlighting specific businesses. We’re putting up a lot of signage and a lot of maps online,” Brooke Prouty, the Mainstreet District’s director, said.

The project is expected to take two years to complete.

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