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Hillcrest biz owners on wall

Here's an interesting sidebar/ We Asked piece that Matt Russell wrote to run with a package about the Hillcrest Shopping Center. The package, which focuses on the impact the U.S. 52 has had on business in the center, will run Monday:

What about the wall?

Here is what the Rochester Hillcrest Shopping Center businesses have to say about the sound wall that blocks them from U.S. 52:

• Godfather’s Pizza: Manager Tracy Sonnier said he can attribute a drop in business to the sound wall. "It was a pretty prime location where it was, but now nobody even knows that this place exists," he said.

• The Nutrition Shop: Manager John Vangness said he’s noticed a 15 to 20 percent drop in foot traffic due to the wall.

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• Minnesota First Credit and Savings: Branch manager Mark Rusciano said the wall has had no impact.

• Diamond Vogel Paint Center: Manager Larry Burritt said he’s noticed a slight drop in business. Longtime customers still come to the store and his wholesale business is steady, he said, but he wonders whether newcomers will find their way to his store.

• The Book Review: Owner Terry Lauth moved her business from its longtime North Broadway location to Hillcrest shortly before the wall was completed, so she said it’s hard to know exactly what impact the wall has had. She said better visibility would help her store, however.

• Blades to Ballet: Employee Katie Horlitz said the store gets more calls from people asking for directions, but business still seems to be doing OK.

• Hillcrest Barber Shop: Owner Jim Larson said the wall has had no impact.

• Farmers Insurance Group: The closing of the Hillcrest License Bureau next door, which owner Jeff Orth attributed in part to the wall, has resulted in less incidental business, said insurance agent John Sawyers.

• Headliners Hair Studio: Owner Cindy Rigotti said the impact has been slight. "We probably don’t get walk-ins like we did for our newer stylists," she said.

• Hillcrest Drug & Gift: Manager Jan Seiver said that foot traffic has been down over 50 percent as a result of the sound wall and area road realignments that have made it difficult for some customers to navigate their way to the store. "I think the biggest complaint is people don’t know how to get to us," she said.

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• Bon’s Buffet and the Brickyard Bar & Grille: Owner Eric Guo closed both of these businesses over the past two weeks. "The sound wall hurt a lot," he said. "After the sound wall, you don’t have any exposure anymore."

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