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Business owners and managers worry about many things — everything from gas prices and shipping costs to the weather.
By Mike Cosentino
Larson Newspapers

Business owners and managers worry about many things — everything from gas prices and shipping costs to the weather.

Consumer spending, calculating it and tracking it, is a national obsession.

At Oak Creek Factory Outlets, determining the elements impacting customer traffic is as easy as looking out the front door.

Construction. Everywhere.

The street in front, the streets on the sides, the entrances and exits are all undergoing some kind of work.

The main street of the Village of Oak Creek is a maze of barriers, signs, rocky pavement and gravel driveways.

It is a perfect storm of construction with Yavapai County Public Works Department working on Jacks Canyon Road, the Arizona Department of Transportation working on Hwy. 179 and the Big Park Domestic Wastewater Improvement District doing sewer work also.

So, how’s business?

“Bad. Very bad,” said Dee Ann Vyne, owner of Cody’s Pet Emporium.

“If they don’t finish soon, we will have the most scenic highway with the most scenic ghost town on it,” she said.

Of the 37 business at the outlet mall, about half are independently owned and half are company stores.

Independent business owners like Vyne are hardest hit by the loss of customer traffic.

“We are all suffering. We are all down,” she said

Vyne just got a new shot of capital, so the pressure is eased a bit for now.

“We are trying to make lemonade out of the lemons. Many of us are trying to be positive. I asked at the last meeting [of mall business managers] what could we do to help ourselves,” Vyne said.

The Onieda Factory Store is closing at the end of August and Manager Deborah Etgen puts half the blame on the construction.

“We made the decision to move before the work began, but this is the nail in the coffin,” Etgen said.

Oak Creek Ltd. Manager Doug Fielding had harsh words for ADOT and its contractor Southwest Asphalt & Paving.

“I spoke with Tom Fisher, president of the general contracting company, yesterday,” Fielding said. “He is frustrated with their subcontractors.”

“He puts the direct blame on the company doing the piping and concrete work,” Fielding said.

Several shop owners and managers said they were told that the construction would last seven to 10 days but it’s been months.

“ADOT blames the contractor, the contractor blames the subcontractors. There is a lot they could be doing but they are slow to respond,” Fielding said.

Fielding is upbeat about the factory outlet’s future.

“We already have a tenant for the Oneida space and two parties are looking at the only other empty store,” Fielding said.

“As soon as the barrier moves and directs traffic in front of the mall rather than the other side of the street, we will be over the hump,” he said.

Fielding said it was a good idea to do construction work at night while businesses are closed.

Vyne said that she was told it would impact the hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area.

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