After roughly two years, construction in the downtown Prior Lake area has finally concluded with the completion of the County Road 21 and Highway 13 roundabout which opened to traffic July 10.
While the roundabout was constructed to move traffic more efficiently, the project slowed foot traffic to the Prior Lake businesses located adjacent to it. Between construction and the coronavirus pandemic, owning a small business has been no easy feat, said owner of Sweet Nautical Boutique Becky Leffler.
“The downtown hasn’t always been what it is now and I think we have probably the most synergy and the most amount of boutiques along with the restaurants and the Boathouse Brewery and that sort of thing, we just got interrupted with two years of construction and then COVID-19 so it’s been a long haul for a lot of us,” Leffler said. “We thought things were getting better but with the resurgence of COVID-19 fear it’s been kind of slow downtown and we all have extra inventory so we decided together to put together an old fashioned sidewalk sale in August.”
Aug. 13-15, locals can browse deals at the sidewalk sale from participating downtown businesses Sweet Nautical, Lueur, Lake BuOY, The Laker Store, Wild Ruffle, Olive Moon, Grace + Gumption and gg Pretty Things.
Those who attend can expect to see sales on extra inventory many stores have as a result of the state mandated closure of non essential businesses which occurred mid March and the slowdown of business in the downtown area due to construction.
The last few months have been challenging, Leffler said, but there has been no shortage of community support.
“The loyalty of Prior Lake and the surrounding communities during construction and COVID-19 — I kind of get teary eyed. The people were driving up, they were buying gift cards, I had people week after week, after week placing orders for things I know they didn’t even need,” she said with a laugh. “They just love our downtown.”
Leffler plans to have racks of clothing outside her business to clear summer and spring inventory and prepare for the change in seasons.
“They can get a lot of great things for a huge reduction in price and they’ll support us, too. Take some of that inventory that we’ve had leftover from being closed down for two-and-a-half months, it’ll take it out of our warehouse and give us some income to buy fall and winter apparel,” Leffler said.
Owner of Lueur Danielle Collignon said she will have similar seasonal merchandise available in and outside of her store during the sale. She, too, felt the impacts of the pandemic and the construction project on her small business.
“It definitely made it slower downtown. We did not see as much traffic downtown and then once it reopened people just were not in the habit of coming down here,” Collignon said. “It kind of just took the whole luster of coming down here out. It was inconvenient for people to find parking and to actually get downtown without having to do a major detour.”
Since construction in the downtown corridor has mostly stopped, the business owners hope to see more people shopping small while staying safe.
“We’re definitely ready to see more community support, more people shopping local, buying gift cards especially during this time,” Collignon said. “I think people are still uncertain about what’s going on, even more shopping online would be great.”
Shoppers will be required to wear masks and outside racks will be distanced to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The sales will take place during each business’ normal hours.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to see what downtown Prior Lake has to offer as well as get great deals on current merchandise,” Collignon said.