Owner cites ART construction, online shopping for closure
Hey Jhonny Says Goodbye to Nob Hill After 20 Years
‘This neighborhood needs help from the city, otherwise it’s just going to dissolve’ – Tom Ford
UPDATES WITH ART COMMENT
BY JOHNNY VIZCAINO
Nob Hill is bracing for its first small business casualty of 2017, and Albuquerque Rapid Transit project is partly to blame, the owner says.
After 20 years as a local specialty retailer in the neighborhood, Hey Jhonny, 3418 Central Ave. SW, is going out of business next month.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to close the store,” said owner Tom Ford in a statement Monday. “There are many variables that went into this decision, including the changing face of brick and mortar retail, online sales, the change of the Nob Hill neighborhood and the impact of the ART project.”
Starting this week, the home furnishing and gift store will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The store’s closing sale begins this weekend with prices starting at 30 percent off. Then, on Jan. 23, it will be 40 percent off. Finally, the store will offer 50 percent off beginning on Feb. 4.
The doors will close for good on Feb. 17.
With the emergence of online shopping, it’s been difficult to stay in the game lately, Ford told ABQ Free Press Weekly, and holiday season construction in the area didn’t do local retailers any favors.
“It did not help us at all, it hindered,” he said, “The streets were empty, parking was available, but people were not coming to the Nob Hill area, afraid of the ART project.”
By no means is the ART project entirely to blame for the store’s closing, Ford said, but proponents of the project have no real idea of what it takes to run a small business.
Joan Griffin, a spokesperson for the ART project, said, “We are sorry to learn about Hey Jhonny’s decision to close and appreciate the tough business climate that all retailers are facing. Just this last week, national giants The Limited, Sears and Macy’s announced closing Albuquerque locations as well.”
She went on, “Since March, the ART communications team reached out to Hey Jhonny 13 times to keep them abreast of ART construction, promotions and special events that could be leveraged to increase business. The Small Business Resource Collaborative connected with Hey Johnny three times to offer free business and marketing consulting, but Hey Jhonny decided to not take advantage of their free services.”
Ford said the store was kept going by it’s unique and quirky feel, quality, and tactile shopping experience, he said, something that is increasingly harder to come by all across the country.
Consumers who have turned their backs on local retailers are leading to the demise of small businesses in Albuquerque, including those in Nob Hill, Ford said.
“They would come out, and we’d see people at least once a week,” he said of the neighborhood. “It’s not that way anymore.”
“This neighborhood needs help from the city, otherwise it’s just going to dissolve,” Ford said, “Nob Hill needs help.”
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