ERWIN, Tenn. - Customers that want to get to stores on Union Street in downtown Erwin have to avoid a few roadblocks, like large concrete slabs, caution tape and equipment, which may be why local businesses are suffering.
Brenda Hawley, the owner of Choo Choo Cafe, says her revenue is down nearly 50 percent. "It makes it difficult for people to be able to find a parking spot. If you can't find a parking spot, then it's hard to get to the businesses," she says.
Parking spots are limited, and sidewalks are covered in dirt. The walkway in front of Forever a Diva was completely torn out Monday, just days after owner Lisa Frosley shut down after making just $45 in one week.
The construction is part of the second phase of a revitalization project that started last May in downtown Erwin with the goal of bringing infrastructure to the area.
Ben McNabbk, owner of Keesecker, knows what it's like to lose revenue. Phase one construction was right outside his store. "May 15 construction started last year, by the time we got to June 1, I was freaking out," he says.
He says construction will be worth it when the entire road looks the same way. "We want people to know that this is a great place to come hang around," he says.
Hawley agrees, saying Erwin will soon be "the most beautiful small town U.S.A."
"If you're going to have progress, you're going to have inconvenience," Hawley says. "So even though it's trouble now, it's going to be so worth it when it's over.
Construction should be completed by late September.