Sharpsburg street repairs put shop in a fix

November 25, 1996


Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - Edna Wilson wasn't planning on retiring anytime soon, but has closed her antique shop because she's had only one customer since work to renovate Main Street began in her block last month.

"This is the busy, busy, busiest time of the year. I don't have customers," said Wilson, 72, of 128 W. Main St.

Since early October, when the renovation work began along her block, Wilson's Windham Antiques has made only $3, she said.

"If somebody takes $250 a week out of your wallet, you notice it," she said.

So Wilson closed her shop in early November, except for Christmas in Sharpsburg on Nov. 16. She is selling 278 of her antiques at a Dec. 14 auction at the Frederick Fairgrounds.


"It's taken the heart out of me as far as staying in business," Wilson said.

What has been most irritating is that almost everyone she has called for assistance, from politicians to state officials, has passed the buck, Wilson said.

"We've done everything we can to accommodate her," including installing steps, said James Zufall, with the Maryland State Highway Administration.

But Wilson said nobody used the steps then because the road was closed and the sidewalks were torn up.

Zufall said the signs at the edge of the road work state Main Street is open for local and business traffic. The project should be done by the end of July 1997, he said.

Denise Yeager, co-owner of the nearby Jacob Rohrbach Inn, said the work may be annoying, but the contractor and state officials have been cooperative with her.

While the inn hasn't had any reservations canceled because of the road work, there hasn't been any business from people driving through town, Yeager said.

The effect on several other Main Street businesses has been more noticeable.

Nutter's Ice Cream is changing its hours starting Monday, opening at 4 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. on weekdays, said Sandra Henson, whose daughter owns the store at 100 E. Main St.

Many of the store's regular customers haven't been stopping in during the day when the road blocks are up, she said.

Many of the regular customers of the Washington County National Bank at 103 W. Main St. have been going to the Keedysville branch instead, said Janet Morgan, office manager.

Parking is the biggest problem, especially for the older customers who have to park in back and walk around to the front entrance, she said.

"I sympathize with the businesses and I feel the best that anybody can do is to let these people do their job," said Mayor Ron Milburn, who owns the 100 E. Main St. building.

Driggs Corp. has a project to do and faces hefty fines if the contract isn't done on time, Milburn said. "It's troublesome for the contractor to have to work around vehicles and pedestrians."

"I don't think there's an honest answer to making things better," he said.

"Everybody has to be hurting," said Dottie Knight, owner of Cap'n Benders Tavern. The tavern's business has been most affected during the day, she said.

"It's just a mess, but hopefully it will be a help," Knight said of the Main Street renovation, which includes fixing stormwater drainage problems.

For further information about the auction call Edna Wilson at 432-8504.

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