Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bridge Down; Shoppers, Too ; New Harmony Merchants Say They Feel a Drop in Business

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Bridge Down; Shoppers, Too ; New Harmony Merchants Say They Feel a Drop in Business

Article excerpt

Pop's had two customers at 3 p.m. on a Friday - not uncommon for the middle of the afternoon. The Route 66 and 60s-themed restaurant slowed down when the New Harmony bridge closed down in May 2012.

Pop's owner Harry Hottel said they lost about 20 percent of customers, the ones from Southern Illinois.

"If they really want to come here, they will," he said.

He said because people in Carmi have to take Interstate 64 or Illinois State Route 141, which turns into Indiana State Route 62, they tend to continue on to Evansville. The New Harmony Bridge closed after an inspection revealed too many problems to remain open. After nine months without the bridge, New Harmony businesses lost some customers, but the ones who love the town keep coming back for more despite the extra distance.

The two routes to New Harmony from Illinois usually takes people an extra 10 to 15 minutes than when the bridge was open.

Sara Brown, Sara's Harmony Way owner, lives across the bridge and said it takes 30 minutes instead of 20 minutes to get to work.

"I don't think it's a physical deterrent but a mental one," Brown said.

The wine, coffee and antique shop gained more business since the closure, but it's probably more that it's a newer business than anything with the bridge, Brown said.

"In no way, shape or form has the bridge affected my business," Brown said. "We've just continuously grown."

Tamara Creek, Golden Rose owner, said her floral shop has stayed as busy as before, as well.

"I hate seeing the bridge gone, but honestly, I haven't seen a difference," she said. "Most people call me, and I get a lot of locals, but there hasn't been much of a difference."

But that's not the case for every business. Chris' Pharmacy lost most of its Illinois customers - 1 percent to 2 percent of its total base - due to the bridge closing.

"It's not that significant of a number thank goodness," said Chris Kissel, the pharmacy owner.

The old-style pharmacy, which opened in 1983, offered to send customers their items, but that can be "cumbersome," Kissel said. …

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