Growing Pains: This is what the Mercer Village vendors think about parking
Mercer Village vendors, like Francar’s Buffalo Wings and Nu-Way, said they believe the parking situation in Mercer Village dissuades customers from coming to their stores.
“We love being there, but parking not being available on the street or in the commercial spaces is hindering our business,” said Nu-Way Co-Owner Jim Cacavias.
Cacavias said during winter break, Nu-Way’s sales increased around 30 to 40 percent which he said shows how much the parking situation hinders his business.
Although Jimmy Smith, general manager of Sauced Pizza, said students make up 75 percent of their customers, he said he still believes parking is a problem in Mercer Village.
“We love the growing campus, but instead of maybe stacking Lofts on top of Lofts maybe build a parking deck or two parking decks per side of campus to help alleviate the parking problem,” Smith said.
Cacavias said the university should implement parking management systems like other universities by selling parking decals for specific lots. He said that might make enforcing parking more manageable.
Subway Manager Wayne Crowell said he thinks Mercer Police should “crack down” on enforcing parking.
“I think the students take up the parking spots for the customers, and it costs us business,” Crowell said.
Mercer Police Chief Gary Collins said they usually have issues with students parking in the retail spots at the beginning of each semester.
“We have to ticket, and once in a while, we have to tow vehicles,” Collins said. “Until the word gets out, then it settles down some.”
Collins said if anyone has complaints or sees a car that needs to be ticketed, they can call Mercer Police to report it.
Mercer Police Officer Gary Mills said in a previous interview that people should only park in the retail spaces in Mercer Village if they are customers.
“One of the places that we really keep a check on is Mercer Village and the retail stores and keep those spots available for them,” Mills said previously.
Jittery Joe’s General Manager Dustin Prater said Mercer Police does a great job at the beginning of the year, but it seems like it gets worse as the semester continues. He said that it is a difficult situation because they also have students that want to study at Jittery Joe’s for longer than the two hour parking limit.
Prater said over the seven years he has been at Jittery Joe’s, the increase in the number of students has also given them more foot traffic.
“Growth is good. You just have to make sure your infrastructure keeps up with it,” Prater said.
He said with the increase in restaurants and decrease in parking spaces over the years, lunchtime is a “nightmare.”
“I have heard people say that they would like to come over here for lunch, but they just don’t feel like dealing with parking, which is kind of frustrating,” Prater said.
Carl Fambro, owner of Francar’s Buffalo Wings, said he’s experienced the same problem.
“If you come out at lunch time, you can see people just circling around trying to find a parking spot,” Fambro said.
He said he loves that Mercer’s campus is growing. When he attended Mercer in the late 70’s, he said he could see from one end of the campus to the other, and parking is just a problem that comes along with the growth.
“Parking’s a growing pain,” Fambro said. “The shortage in housing, that’s part of the growing pains. We gotta get through it, but it’s just still uncomfortable now.”