Recession still hurting Greencastle businesses


The sudden closing of Los Martinez on the square this semester further points to the challenges small businesses face to stay open in Greencastle.
However, William Dory, executive director of the Greencastle Development Center, emphasized that while small businesses in Greencastle may be struggling, it is not just a local problem.
"The issues related to small businesses are not special to Greencastle," Dory said. "I think given the fact that the nation is coming out of a recession [makes] it more difficult than ever for a small business owner to make a go of it."
Nonetheless, the temporary closing of The Blue Door and the recent struggles of Downtown Deli suggest that some Greencastle businesses are having difficulty maintaining a steady flow of customers.
"Merchants have to be aware of that the student population turns over every 4 years," Dory said on the importance of continuously reaching out to the DePauw community. "[The businesses] are reeducating a new population every 4 years."
Coordinator of Community Service and Outreach Gigi Jennewein and her husband Bill Fenlon have co-owned a space on the corner of Washington and Jackson Street with English professor Tom Chiarella for the past 12 years. Jennewein's building contains two retail spaces, which are currently the Low Road Gallery, Covered Bridge Cyclery, Inc. and four apartment buildings on the floor above.
The Low Road Gallery owners have been steady tenants for the past four years, but the other retail space has seen five different businesses including a coffee shop, Martin's Emporium and a church.
"A general problem I've seen is we don't have small business owners who know how to exist in this small little community that has this transient, more sophisticated population for nine months," Jennewein said, referring to the DePauw community.
Jennewein said you need to know "who to serve, how to market yourself, [and] where to be" in order to have a successful business
Regarding the difficulties of holding onto a tenant for her building, Jennewein notes that the retailers are not the only ones to blame. She says there is not a great deal of support in town for small businesses, such as non-profit organizations that can contribute business development and goals.
"We need to help the community attempt to grow and have more opportunities for more people to come," Jennewein said.
Still, Jennewein is hopeful about the services being offered at Ivy Tech and expresses that the Stellar Grant funds have given her "renewed enthusiasm" about fixing up the square.
Dory also notes that the popularity of online shopping as well as the development of the shopping centers in Plainfield and Avon has added to local retailers' competition.
However, Dory stresses that there is still plenty of opportunity in Greencastle for those business owners willing to pursue it.
"That's not to say they can't be competitive, it's just sometimes they have to alter their marketing and their outreach to meet the requirements of the marketplace," Dory said.
One business that has successfully modified its marketing strategies through the years is Eitel's Flowers, that offers services to students' parents through their website. Dory states that some companies have to reach outside the city limits for their customers in order to stay in business.
Director of the Ivy Tech Business and Entrepreneurial Services Center, Ken Eitel previously owned Eitel's Flowers as it was his family's business. This center at Ivy Tech provides resources for small business development. Eitel emphasizes that business owners should create their business plans to fit the whole community.
"Make sure to do your homework," Eitel said, a previous owner of Eitel's Flowers. "In doing your homework, not only do you need to learn about the business you want to start and the competitive environment."
Eitel attributes the success of Eitel's Flowers with DePauw as well as the community to good value and customer service.
"When you offer good business and good service, people will find you."