Wednesday, October 5, 2005
Store uses some creativity to cope with construction
By Dave Stewart, The Guardian

Business may be down on lower Queen Street in Charlottetown but at least one store owner has chosen to get creative.

Lower Queen Street was thrown into turmoil last month by the sudden start of a $825,000 streetscape renovation project.

Crews are ripping the street apart and making it difficult for people to get anywhere close to some businesses between Richmond and Water Streets.

Dave MacSween, who owns Beyond the Beach on Queen Street, said he figured there is no sense in complaining about the inconvenience.

“I think everybody has been kind of negative,’’ MacSween said Tuesday amid the deafening roar of machinery outside his store.

“Now it’s been tough on us. I mean you can’t find a parking space for four blocks but rather than just be negative about the whole thing we decided to be a little pro-active about it.’’

Among other things, the project will replace existing sidewalks with interlocking brick, install new street lights and put in new landscaping. It’ll also bury all overhead power, telephone and cable television lines.

With the help of some equally creative employees, MacSween has turned Beyond the Beach into BTB (Beyond the Beach) Construction Company.

The storefront window has been decorated with hard hats that have been transformed into colourful BTB Construction Company logos, buzz saws, work benches and overalls — all surrounded by construction caution tape.

The employees are even getting into the act, donning hard hats to greet customers as they come in.

On Tuesday afternoon, the window display was drawing rave reviews from passers-by.

“How much for the hard hat?’’ one curious onlooker asked.

“I think it’s a great and innovative idea with all of the construction work going on,’’ said one American tourist walking by.

Even neighbouring businesses are impressed.

“I think it looks great, whatever works,’’ said an employee at Home Accents.

Since work began last month, many business owners in the area have lamented the challenge customers have in getting into the businesses and the danger which exists from the construction work itself.

“On the other side of (Queen) Street there was one day that you literally couldn’t get in somebody’s door,’’ MacSween said.

“When I first heard about it I understood they were just going to do a half a block on one side of the street at a time but all of a sudden the whole four blocks were torn up.’’

MacSween, however, sees no sense in harping on it. The work is underway and he’s certain that the pain businesses on the street feel now will give way to an increase in traffic once the streetscape project is finished and people flock to the area to see the product.

“As for now we’re just trying to make a good thing out of a bad thing, create some interest and try and get some people down here.’’