Some 17 Avenue shops go under while others bounce back post-construction

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Some 17 Avenue shops go under while others bounce back post-construction
WATCH ABOVE: It has been a month now since construction work on 17 Avenue wrapped up for the winter. Some businesses didn't survive the disruption while others say customers are back and they are doing better than before. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Dec 16, 2017

The lineup stretched out the doors of Blame Betty to the end of the block for the shop’s final day Saturday.

The vintage-inspired clothing store on 17 Avenue in Victoria Park has a big following after 12 years in business in Calgary. But a combinations of factors is being blamed for the store’s demise.

“You can’t really blame one thing in particular. It was just a perfect storm of events and I think a lot of businesses in Calgary are really feeling the strain right now,” said Blame Betty manager Hanna Breen.

“It had a lot to do with the economy taking a dip. And the exchange rates went up because we do have a lot of product from other countries. And there was some road construction out front that coincided with our move into a bigger location.”

Construction on 17 Avenue started in April.  The city is replacing underground utilities and sidewalks along the busy retail strip. In mid-November, the road opened up again as construction stopped for the winter.

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READ MORE: 17 Avenue reopens after months of construction woes for businesses 

“I lost thousands of dollars in business,” said Sylvie Law, who owns SylvStyle Boutique.

“I’d have my regular clients because I’ve been here over five years but they would even text me and say, ‘We wanted to come shop but we couldn’t find anywhere to park.'”

READ MORE: Pop-up party planned for alley off 17 Avenue amid construction

Law says it was hard surviving the lack of sales during construction but customers are coming back to her unique clothing store on 17 Avenue.

“Tenfold. Now I have sales every day, whereas before, when it was under construction, I would be four or five days in a row with no sales,” Law said.

Across the street, the waffles are selling like hotcakes again at Buttermilk Fine Waffles. The restaurants’s manager estimates traffic is up by 60 per cent since the road re-opened.

“It was pretty hard on us especially because we were given certain time frames and then the time frame changed and changed and changed… What turned into one month turned into three,” Quiton Mulnar said on Saturday.

The work did stretch around five months longer than expected. The city apologized to businesses over unforeseen utility issues that came up.

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READ MORE: Calgary businesses launch petition calling for open liquor on 17 Avenue

However, Buttermilk staff figure they are doing even better than before because the construction period forced them to be more resourceful by getting a liquor licence to help survive.

“A lot of that has to do with how we’ve grown in the business too. Definitely going through something like that, you get a little bit smarter and how you do things,” Mulnar said.

Businesses will be consulted before construction starts again in the spring as work continues in small sections along 17 Avenue towards 14 Street.

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