Business feature: Hull Street overpass closure affects businesses

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks Lovita Frusher, owner of One Stop feed and Supply on Hull Street, helps Len Allemand of Clovis Monday with some research on an item.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ Staff Writer

The sign in front of Lovita Frusher’s feed store on the south end of the Hull Street overpass reads, “Still open. Still here.”

Like the dozens of business owners on the south end of the Hull Street overpass, which was closed indefinitely in July for safety reasons, the owner of One Stop Feed said she is hoping her business can survive until the main artery into the area is reopened.

“We’re hanging in here. I hope they don’t forget us,” she said.

City officials shut down the overpass in July when a state engineer deemed the structure unsafe for the 4,300 vehicles that travel over it daily.

City manager Joe Thomas told residents during a special meeting Friday in a best-case scenario it could take between 12 months to 18 months to replace the overpass once funding is acquired. But he said best-case scenarios are rare occurrences.

Access points to the south of town are about mile away, which hurts business, Frusher said.

She said she’s noticed a drop in her elderly clientele, who commonly purchase single bags of pet food.

She believes they are not willing to take the longer, busier routes to get to her store.

For now, larger purchasers, such as farmers and ranchers, have found ways to make it to her store. But she is concerned a prolonged closure of the overpass could change that.

Nancy Rogers, co-owner of the Clovis Livestock Auction, said the overpass closure has inconvenienced customers who come for cattle and horse sales.

She said weekly cattle sales draw about 500 people a week while horse sales bring about 10,000 people to the area a year.

A casualty of the closure was the Mom’s Cafe restaurant located inside the auction building, according to Rogers.

She said the cafe’s management closed shop two weeks after the overpass closed.

The restaurant reopened three weeks ago under new management, Rogers said.

“It’s less busy, definitely,” she said. “We’re hoping that from horse sales and cattle sales are enough to stay.”

Suzanne Caporusso of the Mobile Service Center, which sells mobile home furnishings and accessories, said the retail portion of the business — they also move mobile homes — has suffered since the overpass closed. She said customer traffic went from about 10 customers a day to about one to two.

“Our primary business is moving houses, our inconvenience is getting out of here,” she said.

Thomas estimated replacing the overpass could cost between $7 million to $9 million.