Business strip in Mission struggles to keep doors open

MISSION, Kansas - More than a dozen businesses in the last several months have closed and moved out of the Johnson Drive shopping district in Mission, Kansas.

Some business owners say the tough economy, the lack of development and the city's recent driveway tax has all made it tough to keep businesses open.

After 11 years in Mission, the bookstore I Love a Mystery is closing. They plan to close by the middle of September.

Maggie Wood who co-manages the store said with less people buying books at book stores, the large land that was supposed to be developed off of Roe Avenue, the recent driveway tax and the economy they had no choice but to close.

As for the driveway tax which costs some of the larger store owners hundreds of dollars a month because it requires owners to pay for the road repairs based on the amount of traffic the store sees, "it's didn't help, it contributed let's put it that way," said Wood.

For the development that still sits vacant, "I think that's why she went ahead and bought this store and outfitted in all this wonderful fixtures and oak is because we were waiting for all of that to open up but it didn't. It's very sad it's all of the nostalgia every time a new customer comes in we start all over with the I can't believe this is happening," said Wood.

Erika Bentz who works at her grandma's cake store Best of Bernadette's Cakes and Catering agrees the lack of new stores moving in has hurt business.

"We don't do quite as many as we used to do, we still do quite a bit. If there were more people that are coming down here to do more shopping that would be walking along the strip more people will pass the shop and want to come in. "I think that's a problem for businesses down here there are just not a lot of people walking around," said Bentz.

Her grandmother's store which has been in Mission for more than two decades said they have been able to stay open, but had to rethink their catering business. Before it was strictly catering, now they have a place for customers to come in and eat some of the cupcakes, cakes and cookies the company bakes. But they have certainly noticed the empty store fronts.

"It's kind of discouraging to see that so we just have to keep crossing our fingers that we are going to stay in business and people that have used us over the years will keep coming back," said Bentz.

Lulu's is a resale shop for women. The owner there said they have been open for about four years and because of the nature of their store, the economy has helped business. But she said she has noticed the for rent signs and would like to see more businesses flourishing in the area.

City officials said there seems to be a turnover with business along the strip every decade or so and it just seems to be one of those moments. They also said the developer is still waiting for a flagship store to sign on to something so they can figure out what to build there. The city hopes it will happen soon so that it will boost business for the shops along Johnson Drive.

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