By Roger McKinney
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Deanna Thompson was relieved Tuesday to see Main Street reopen in front of her business.
Customers were trickling back, after the worst of business days on Monday.
“I’m very relieved,” she said.
On Monday, Thompson, the owner of Thompson’s Barber Shop at 926 S. Main St., was despairing over a third day of lost business in less than a week. She said her barber chairs were empty all day.
The 900 block of Main Street had to be closed to traffic on Monday as crews started demolition of the building at 914 S. Main St. The street also was closed to traffic on Wednesday and Thursday last week after the Carl Adams Building, 910-912 S. Main St., collapsed early Wednesday.
City officials determined that 914 S. Main St. also was unstable and ordered it demolished.
“This is really hurting us,” Thompson said in her empty shop on Monday. “This is my only source of income.”
Unlike many barbers in Joplin, she is open on Mondays, and it is usually a good business day for her. She said it wouldn’t be unreasonable for her to have six customers on a Monday.
“We rely only on the drive-by and the walk-in business,” she said.
Thompson opened on June 1, which means she wasn’t open last year when a fire destroyed the Rains Brothers Building, which was north of the Carl Adams Building in the 900 block of Main Street, closing that area for cleanup work.
“As a small-business owner, it’s hard to get started,” Thompson said. “Then to have something like this come along because somebody neglected their building, that really hurts you.”
Thompson said that if Main Street were to have to be closed many more days, her business might close for good.
But the street closing hasn’t hurt business at The Pub, 904 S. Main St., which had a good crowd for lunch on Monday. Owner Howard Beason said he talked with the contractor to make sure customers could get in the building, and several had found there way there.
“They’re working with me,” Beason said of the contractor.
Suzette Kester, an owner of Discount Furniture at 901 S. Main St., said her foot traffic actually increased after the building collapse because of people coming downtown to see the demolition work in progress.
“I’ve been here 20 years,” Kester said. “You deal with it.”
Downtown Furniture and Flea Market, 930 S. Main St., just south of the barber shop, was closed Monday. Co-owner Jamie Silvers said the business closes on Mondays because it’s open during the weekend to get customer traffic from the Joplin Flea Market.
“I couldn’t honestly tell you if it hurt my business or not,” Silvers said of the street closure. “It’s just been slow anyway.”
She said she hoped Main Street wouldn’t be closed too many more days.
“There isn’t really much I can do about it,” she said. “Just hope for the best.”
Mark Williams, of Joplin, a minority owner of Boomtown Block LLC — which owned the Rains Brothers, the Carl Adams and 914 S. Main St. — said he was unaware that anyone was losing business because of the situation. He said the owners regret both the transportation inconveniences involved with closing the street or the loss of customers to a business.
“I’m a small-business owner myself, and with acts of God or other situations with leased buildings, it’s hard to predict the future and know the complete conditions of a structure,” Williams said. “As a former president of the Downtown Joplin Alliance and current president of the Murphysburg Historic Preservation District, our whole goal is to make Main Street better one building at a time.”
Williams said he hopes a bad situation can be turned into a gain for all.
“Sometimes things don’t always work the way you plan them,” he said. “We hope the marketability of the property will prompt someone to buy it for additional parking or a vital business.”
One more day
JACK SCHALLER, Joplin assistant public works director, said the 900 block of Main Street likely would be closed at least part of another day sometime this week as the contractor finishes demolishing the building at 914 S. Main St.