UPDATE: Construction company brings back business to Middle Vall - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Construction company brings back business to Middle Valley Rd

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - UPDATE:  A construction company is apologizing for keeping customers away from a local business.

When Channel 3 stopped by Jerry Evans' shop in Hixson it was empty - not a single customer came in because of the detour.     
Less than 24 hours later and his shop was full, and he got what he wanted most -- an apology from the developer who closed the road.

"I pulled in and there's probably, I'd guess 50 people in the parking lot," Evans said, "They said they were here to help, they said they were going to take their lunch break and come shop."

Evans came back to his shop to find the parking lot full of employees from Hutton company, the developer in charge of construction for the new Hixson Walmart Neighborhood Market. When the CEO saw Channel 3's story about the impact the road closure was having on the businesses, she sent her staff to make it right.

"We brought most of the company, some of us are traveling, and told them to have at it," said Matt Phillips, Vice President of Hutton Company, "Sort of "Supermarket Sweeps" style to use the old game show."

Employees didn't just shop at Finders Keepers Resale Store, they hit up the whole plaza and finished with lunch at the corner deli. The message to store owners was clear.

"We didn't like being responsible for any heartache for any neighbor or future neighbor," Phillips said.

Phillips is hoping the business they brought in Wednesday will make up for the revenue lost thanks to the detour.

"Shows good relations between the developing part and existing businesses," said James Clary, owner of Middle Valley Resale Shop.

Phillips says the project is taking longer than expected because of some delays in utility work.  He says this should be the only part of construction that shuts down both lanes of Middle Valley Rd. But if that changes, the business owners will be the first to know.

"I think that communication and being up front with, getting in front of that, being proactive instead of reactive is the real lesson here," Phillip said.

"Maybe if we have lost a customer due to this construction, maybe we have gained a customer because of this gesture," said Evans.

The construction is expected to wrap up this week and Middle Valley Rd should reopen this weekend.  The new Walmart is scheduled to open by the end of this year.


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ORIGINAL STORY: A local business owner says he's losing out on customers because they can't get to his shop, so he contacted "3 On Your Side" for help.

The 7600 block of Middle Valley Road closed on Thursday and could be closed for up to two weeks while sewer work for the new Walmart is completed.
    
Businesses on the block say they were given no warning to the road closures and the detour is keeping customers from seeing the stores are still open.

"You know we're small, self-employed, my wife and I, and that's my son, you know this is our business, we don't have another job, this is our income," said Jerry Evans.

Detour signs direct cars in the opposite direction of Finders Keepers Resale Store on Middle Valley Road.

Evans wants drivers to know he's still open for business.

"About 80 percent of our business is drive-by traffic, so that's 80 percent income gone," Evans said.

Once Evans noticed the road closure was slowing business he reached out to customers on social media and made signs to let people know his store is still open.

"We need to be open every day that we're open, and without having any traffic we're shut down," Evans said, "That's our income, that's our livelihood, and it's going to devastate us if we're not open soon."

Hamilton County Spokesperson Mike Dunne says the county did not close the road -- it's the developer, Hutton Construction Company, who shut it down for the private project.

Signage and public notification was left to Hutton, who posted a notice in the paper, fulfilling its requirement with the county.

Hutton wouldn't answer our calls, instead the company emailed a brief statement saying, "Our team is optimistic Middle Valley Road will be re-opened by Thursday. We apologize for any inconvenience." - Matt Phillips, Vice President of Hutton Company
 
While Hutton wasn't required to notify business owners personally, Jerry Evans says he would have appreciated a heads up. And hopes to get one the next time his business is impacted.

Evans says he's looking forward to Walmart bringing more shoppers to his street, but wonders if his business will still be open to see its benefits.

"But, will we survive that long? We're talking another 6-8 months before they open," Evans said, "And if the business shuts down or if they close our road down two or three more times, we'll have to shut the doors."

The businesses in that plaza aren't the only ones impacted -- people have been driving through a person's property to avoid the road closure and detour, leaving tire marks in the grass.

Road work here could be finished this week and the road open again this weekend, businesses will be open no matter what.
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