MISSOULA — The west side of the Higgins Street Bridge was closed for construction for over seven months which was another struggle for businesses along the 100 block of South Higgins in addition to a months-long pandemic.
“When the bridge construction started in October, it was kind of like COVID, and now this? We kind of felt uneasy when it first started," said Mary’s Mountain Cookies owner Shelby McCracken.
She told MTN News foot traffic, and the store’s sales slowed to a crawl.
Sugar Tree Salon owner Pagona Kubert saw a similar scenario.
“We literally had barely any walk-ins. People weren’t just crossing the bridge anymore, so they weren’t coming in this direction, they were parking in other areas."
For these two business owners and several others on the block, the word of a late-May reopening was music to their ears -- and the difference they’ve both seen in two short weeks is encouraging.
"Traffic is moving on this nice west side of the bridge now, we’ve seen a huge increase in our foot traffic and sales have just really gone up," McCracken said.
“We’re booked out on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and pretty much some openings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays," Kubert said.
Kubert added the increase in business compared to just a few weeks ago is phenomenal.
Following the devastating one-two punch of COVID and the bridge closure, businesses on the west side of the 100 block of South Higgins are set up for a perfect storm for success heading into the months ahead.
“It’s opened just in time for the tourist and summer season, it seems like it’s actually perfect timing for us," McCracken concluded.