Boulevard experiences "ebb and flow" of bad economy

Posted by: Cody Holyoke - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Lequita Mayes took a chance about five months ago.  She launched a barbershop business near Eastern Boulevard and hoped clients would keep coming.

"My clientele followed, and then we've gained new clients thus far, so it's been good," said Mayes, who runs 'Cuts by Q' Barbershop.

Mayes is one of the lucky ones.

Next door, Just Golf is just a shadow of its former self.  Owner Mike Oliver closed shop and retired.  Oliver says the economy is tough for services you just don't need to survive.

"Even folks that have money right now, because of the fear of the way the economy is heading, are reluctant to spend money, even if they have it," he explained.

Similar stories are springing up just across the boulevard.  Store closings are creeping up the highway.

City leaders acknowledge the troubles, but they also point to the businesses moving into the area.

"I think it's a cyclical thing. I think it's an ebb and flow.   Right now, more people--more of the businesses--are gravitating toward I-85 rather than I-65," said Chad Emerson, Montgomery's development director.

Emerson says the city relies heavily on private developers to bolster business and at times will use incentives to bring stores back.

"That doesn't mean that every project there's money for, because, just like with the retailers money's tight, local governments and the state government and the federal government, money's tight," he explained.

For now, business owners remain hopeful the situation on the boulevard will turn around.

"To see my clients coming and traffic picking up is really a plus for me," Mayes said.

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