Five months ago, the owners of The Hudson Street Market began a renovation project to help rejuvenate the neighborhood grocery store and better serve the Linden neighborhood and surrounding communities, which it has been doing for more than 25 years.
“We surveyed our customers to ask how we could improve their experience,” said Jill Moorhead, marketing director at Food Works, the parent company that owns and manages The Hudson Street Market as well as The Hills Market. “As a result of the survey, we made a number of changes to the store.”
Those changes include lowered prices, an increase in the varieties of fresh produce and meat, increased weekly circular advertisements to the community, a separation of the liquor store from the grocery store and a repainting of both the interior and exterior of the building.
Upon completing these renovations, the management team at The Hudson Street Market was hit with an immediate surprise in the form of a roadway infrastructure project from The City of Columbus.
“We found out on April 12 that that the city would be starting this construction project on April 16,” Moorhead explained.
A portion of Hudson Street just west of the market was closed a few days later and the effects that the construction has had on the store has been described as nothing short of devastating to business.
“The store is down 25 percent in sales revenue and customer traffic,” said Jim Stiffler, CEO and chairman of the board at Food Works. “The impact is destructive and defeating and we are losing money every day.”
Currently, customers must either maneuver through interconnected adjacent business parking lots to reach the grocer, or detour more than a mile through residential neighborhoods, due to an old rail bed running parallel to Cleveland Avenue that limits through-street access in the area.
Management at The Hudson Street Market has approached Columbus City Council for some form of relief.
“City Council has been in contact with counsel for the market and our Public Service Department,” said Councilmember Eileen Paley. “In addition to detour signs that are already in place, Service will be adding additional signage to indicate that businesses are open and provide additional information on suggested detours.”
But the owners of The Hudson Street Market said that’s not enough to remedy the construction issues and describe interactions with city officials as disappointing and not urgent.
“We understand that this work needs to be done,” said Moorhead. “But we don’t feel that the city understands the impact that shutting off customer flow has on residents, employees and a small business that is trying to work to continue to provide fresh food to this community.”
Moorhead instead has pushed for a solution that would allow a lane of traffic to remain open during construction, but to no avail.
“Utilities companies, such as Columbia Gas and AEP, routinely hire security companies to direct traffic and allow access to streets during their projects,” she said. “The Department of Public Service seems to have chosen to not allow for this service, meaning that they’ve chosen not to provide access to a community center in an area of the city that very much needs its community center.”
In response to sagging sales, management at The Hudson Street Market was forced to suspend the hours of two employees to accomodate the decrease in customer traffic. Moorhead said the company is working to tighten its belt in other ways to still be able to continue to provide for the families employed by the grocery store.
“The store is currently losing $10,000 a week in sales due to this construction,” she explained. “In short, the detour is not working.”
Roadway construction is expected to last through late June.
Update: A group shopping event has been organized to help support the store, and will take place this Saturday, May 19th from 10am to 3pm. More information on the event can be found HERE.
More information about The Hudson Street Market can be found online via Facebook.