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Cecil Ashburn closure driving businesses to prepare for fewer customers

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala - It's a new year and the City of Huntsville is preparing for a new major road project.

In less than a week, a 3.4 mile stretch of Cecil Ashburn Drive will close to traffic for 10 months. That area of road connects Hampton cove to Jones Valley.

One Jones Valley business owner was afraid the closure was going to make him lose nearly half his business, but he found a way to steer clear of this problem.

Business owners get a unique perspective of their community, and Yogurt Mountain owner Chris Shiner says things are changing in this area.

"I think business has dropped here just in general from the overall expansion of the market," he explained.

He says the growth of downtown Huntsville, Madison and the loss of Grissom High School have impacted the community.

"It has taken a lot of business I think from personally, from Jones Valley," he added.

Now, a literal roadblock for business - the main artery that ferries 17,000 trips over the mountain between Jones Valley and Hampton Cove is going to be cut off.

"With this road closed, I don't know what happens if Hampton Cove can't come over to support a lot of the businesses," Shiner said. "Here you might see a lot of closures," he said.

He says Hampton Cove residents made up 30-40 percent of his customers at Yogurt Mountain in Jones Valley. He was worried the closure would drive that business away.

That's why he decided to open a second location in Hampton Cove a year and a half ago.

It wasn't an easy decision. He had to weigh risking the loss of losing nearly half his business with doubling his overhead.

"As a business owner, you have to do what you can to survive," he stated.

He says his plan hit some bumps in the road since the closure was pushed back a year.

"I'm selling more yogurt, but not making nearly as much money doing it because of the extra cost," he added.

He plans to keep his second location open even after the Cecil Ashburn project is complete.

All he is waiting to see what happens and hope for smoother roads ahead.

Other Jones Valley businesses prepare for the road closure

The Morales family owns multiple Tropical Smoothie locations in Huntsville, and they just opened a location on Cecil Ashburn near where the road will be closed.

"We opened this one just in September," she stated.

Owner Elena Morales says she thinks the Cecil Ashburn closure will pump the brakes on her stream of customers.

She is spinning this problem into a solution by changing her marketing strategy.

"We are planning to do more marketing around the housing, around the Tropical Smoothie and see if we can maintain business," she explained.

She is also looking forward to a new gym opening right next door to her shop.

"Which is going to be beneficial to us too so we can maintain a morning breakfast business," she said.

There are several gyms in Jones Valley. EVO FitnessĀ is located in Legacy Marketplace near the corner of Carl T Jones and Cecil Ashburn.

Instructor Casey Creque says EVO has a plan for the closure.

"We're actually not worried about it," she said.

Creque says they are talking to their clients who live in Hampton Cove and also using social media to extend their reach to future clients.

"Making sure that we're just talking to people about what we do and the science behind lagree," she explained.

These businesses hope even though drivers won't be coming from around the mountain, people will still support small businesses in Jones Valley.

For a list of alternate routes click this link to go a previous story on WHNT.com.

The City of Huntsville also has information about the closure on their website.

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