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Keeping a stiff upper lip

Second Street businesses are holding the line while road is torn up


Some merchants are smiling. Some are gritting their teeth. Others have no expression at all.

But the businesses on Second Street are holding their own while road construction goes on just outside their stores. With the project nearing the midway point, optimism is outpointing pessimism.

“The first weeks were a transition period,” said Sid Sin, development project manager for the city of Lake Oswego. “People were timid and hesitant. Now they’ve adjusted and have found their way to the businesses they’re looking for.”

Some businesses have it worse than others. Lady Di’s Tea Room’s charm has been diminished by having two-thirds of its front covered by a cyclone fence. This leaves but a narrow path for tea lovers to get inside the shop. by: CLIFF NEWELL - Moya Stephens displays her philosophy of life to the evident approval of Queen Elizabeth. Customers are still treading the narrow path to Lady Di's Tea Room.

However, shop owner Moya Stephens epitomizes the pluck of her native England, and Stephens and her plucky staff have been blessed by customers who do not let bulldozers, steam shovels, dump trucks, piles of rubble or narrow lanes stop them from coming to imbibe their favorite beverage. In any case, Stephens’ worst fears have not yet come to pass.

“We’re helped because this is a destination place,” she said. “People come here because they really want to come here.”

Customers are taking Stephens’ good advice to call ahead and get updated information on how to get access.

“Our flags are still flying,” Stephens noted.

Over at Chuck’s Place, accessibility is easier and customers are loyal.

“We haven’t seen much drop-off at all,” said owner Chuck Shaw-Ryan.

The morning din at Chuck’s seems just as loud as ever as the angular Texan presides over proceedings with his quick wit and spray bottle.

Over at Graham’s Book & Stationery, venerable owner Paul Graham is surprised at how well business has held up.

“It’s been better than I imagined it would,” said Graham. “I’ve been able to gauge it because of what happened at our other location in Oregon City. Sales have held nicely.”

A lot of Graham’s customers seem to come from Oregon pioneer stock.

“Many come and they don’t even realize construction is going on,” Graham said. “I’ve been impressed by the way people have been finding our other three entrances, other than the one on Second Street. I’ve got to give Oswegans credit.”

Graham has also been hot on the promotion trail, with such brainstorms as his Lucky Egg promotion. It also helps that city signage has steadily improved.

Other Second Street business people have also been pleasantly surprised.

“It’s generally been OK,” said Nancy Batten, manager of Chrisman’s Picture and Frame. “This is not a busy time of year because of taxes, but I haven’t noticed a drop in business.”

“Everything is smooth,” said Denise Sheerman, manager of Oswego Optique. “The only trouble is we have no handicapped access at this time.”

Still, business owners are eager for the project to be over in June.

“We’ve got to grit our teeth and wait until it’s over,” said Steve Weiss of Yours Truly Personal Gifts. “Customers are having a hard time getting to us. Our dedicated customers are finding us.”

However, Weiss was happy to note, “The construction guys are making lots of progress. Maybe they’ll finish early.”

Sin isn’t making promises, but he is confident that Second Street business owners will survive and thrive.

Sin said, “The bottom line is that we are trying to get through this construction as quickly as possible and continue to support the local businesses by maintaining access to the greatest extent feasible, providing weekly updates and reminding the public that these businesses are open during construction.”by: CLIFF NEWELL - Behind all of this equipment Lady Di's Tea Room is still open for business. Second Street merchants are mostly happy with the way trade has held up during construction.



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