Sendik's Sales Shrinking As Mandel Group Development Takes Root
Despite a new two-story parking structure behind the Shorewood grocery store available to customers, owner John Nehring says business has waned as a six-story apartment and retail development sprouts in his parking lot.
As a new apartment and retail development takes root in its parking lot, Sendik's in Shorewood has seen sales wane.
"It has affected business, there's no doubt about it," said John Nehring, who co-owns the independent store with his wife Anne.
A two-story parking structure constructed behind the grocery store — part of Milwaukee developer the Mandel Group’s new $34.8 million, six-story development — was supposed to help. But Nerhing said he saw a slight drop in business — somewhere between 5 to 10 percent — at that point.
Then when construction moved to his parking lot at 4027 N. Oakland Ave., traffic into the store declined even more, though he couldn’t put a figure on the drop. Nehring said the transition just hasn't been as smooth as he thought it would be.
"Certain days fill a little better," he said. "Change is always hard, but at this point, the change was a little bit too hard, too fast."
Ramp access to the parking garage from Oakland Avenue opened on July 24, but with exterior construction work continuing through August, "there may be temporary changes of traffic flow and signage during this interim time to allow for the work to be completed," according to a map distributed by the village.
Mandel has been helpful
Nehring said Mandel Group has been wary of parking problems during construction, doing what it can to ease the burden on local businesses.
"Mandel has been awesome," Nehring said. "They have been helping as much as they can, getting signage up."
Nehring said he's working with the Mandel group on a marketing campaign, directing deals at Shorewood and Whitefish Bay residents. Sendik's has also started home delivery, trying to cater to some of the grocery store's older clientele whom Nehring said are apprehensive about navigating the construction surrounding the store. There's a $25 order minimum and delivery is free for Shorewood and Whitefish Bay residents.
The Nehrings have been supportive of the project in their parking lot from the beginning, but said early they knew it could harm business.
“Every way, shape and form, I really want to try to get this done, because I do think it’s a positive thing for the village," Nehring told the Milwaukee Business Journal in March 2011. At the time, he estimated business could fall as much as 40 percent.
Meanwhile, Nehring said he has run into a few snags with renovations inside his store, but that they should be complete within two to three months, along with a new entrance to the west near the parking structure.
"It will be really nice," he said. "I think customers will really like some of the new changes."
Staffing cuts possible
Despite his upbeat attitude, Nehring said if business continues to slide, staffing is where he'll make cuts to offset loss of revenue.
"We are going to survive, but what will happen is we will lose a lot of employees," he said. "And, when March comes around and the parking lot opens up and business picks up, I'm going to need to hire more people. We would probably lose some good people."
No problems for Oakcrest Tavern
Sendik's parking lot served a slew of businesses on the North Oakland Avenue block. Signs signaling motorists to take advantage of the parking structure have been posted in the windows of nearby businesses like Oakcrest Tavern, which is across the street from Sendik's.
Over there, manager Andy Frasier said he figured he would see the bottom line slump and customers avoid patronizing his bar and restaurant because of parking issues, but it has been business as usual.
"I don't know if people just got used to it quickly, but we haven't been affected by it," he said. "We had a little problem with parking for a minute, but it was nothing more than a blip on the radar."
Construction is expected to wrap up in March, when Walgreens will move across the street from its current location at 4081 N. Oakland Ave. and surface parking will open. Everything will be completed, including the apartments, in August.