Mexican décor, import store plans move to N. Oracle site

Borderlands, just off N. Fourth Ave., says drainage, streetcar work has hit it hard
2012-11-10T00:00:00Z Mexican décor, import store plans move to N. Oracle siteAngela Pittenger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 10, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Borderlands Trading Company is packing up its downtown store on East Seventh Street and moving to North Oracle Road.

The store, which sells Mexican furniture and rustic décor, had been in its spot off North Fourth Avenue for 21 years.

Sales had been down due to the economy, but the store was able to remain stable despite the downturn.

That is until October of last year, when the city embarked on its drainage project right in front of the store.

Owner Wes Baker said it was hard for customers to even walk down there with all of the heavy equipment.

When that project was completed, the city transitioned right into the streetcar project.

"We completely lost our Christmas season last year," Baker said.

After a revenue loss of $200,000 in just over a year, Baker had enough.

"Downtown is a big old mess. I've had enough fun. I'm getting out of here," he said.

The Regional Transportation Authority, which is helping to pay for the streetcar, does offer the MainStreet Business Assistance Program, which gives consulting in various areas such as social media, marketing, online and mapping.

Britton Dornquast, director of the MainStreet Business Assistance Program, said between 160 and 170 businesses have used its services during the streetcar project.

He said all businesses on an RTA project qualify for the services, but not everybody takes advantage of them.

"The biggest thing we try to drive through is that these are challenging times, and there are lots of things you can do, and lots of things people do do, and lots of things people don't do.

"There's a level of responsibility for everybody. We know the program works for those who work it. You get out of it what you put in it," Dornquast said.

Baker said he got updates from the RTA and the custom map for his website, but did not get any of the consulting.

"There was nothing they can really do for anybody but give updates. I don't recall anybody ever saying they could help get people in here. They can't give economic assistance or spend money to advertise for you or help with rent while your business is going down," said Baker.

Dornquast said they've had a lot of successes with the program. "We've had a lot of happy campers. But we also have people who have not used it at all."

He said it does not offer financial assistance because of a gift clause that forbids state or local government agencies from giving money to businesses.

Needless to say, Baker is not a fan of the streetcar project, despite the RTA's assistance program.

"Businesses on Fourth were hurting before the project, but they're hurting more now," he said.

He thinks it was not well thought out or properly planned "timingwise or necessitywise."

"Streetcars would be nice if we had a bunch of extra money, but we don't. It has pushed me to get the heck out of downtown. It's very unfortunate."

Baker said that although the downtown store was not in a prime retail location, he spent a lot of money and did well attracting people to the area.

"My intention was to stay down there. I spent between $250,000 and $300,000 in television ads to get the place on the map in the last seven to eight years. So for me, I had a significant investment in that location in that regard."

Even though he said he won't miss it downtown, it's a bittersweet move.

"It hurts to walk away after spending so much time and money trying to make it a viable spot."

If You Go

Borderlands is having a 10 percent-off sale before it closes its store Monday evening.

• Where: 301 E. Seventh St, 622-3476.

• When: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sunday; and 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

• What's next: The new store is at 6020 N. Oracle Road and will open Nov. 20.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at apitteng@azstarnet.com or 573-4137.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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