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Mixed bag for Bishop businesses in 2011

February 3, 2012

More news concerning the future of the Cottonwood Plaza will be announced by the new owners next week. Photo by Mike Bodine

There are plenty of empty store fronts on Main Street and around the city with just memories left of many now-former entrepreneurial ventures in the Bishop area. There are also plenty of staples in the Bishop business community that are investing hard- earned cash into their establishments for the future.
There were several businesses that moved locations and some that have changed products and some that are being delayed by circumstances beyond any control.
The controversial Cottonwood Plaza is in a state of suspended animation, having been closed, fenced off and windows boarded for three years. The shopping center was sold to what are called “optimistic” owners, but not long after the ink was dry on the documents, an illness struck a primary player, sidelining any projects. Unfortunately, the illness has taken its last turn for the worst.
Tawni Thomson, director of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce said the survivors are still moving forward with plaza projects. Projects include a major rehabilitation of the interior space in the plaza’s buildings. She said she has shared the retail analysis and leakage study with the owners who found the information very promising. The analysis, Thomson explained, revealed that more than $149 million of retail sales are being made by locals out of the area. She said the owners hope to capitalize on this fact.
There is still no confirmation on potential tenants for the plaza.
There are rumors that El Pollo Loco may or may not be occupying the former Burger King space and that the International House of Pancakes is interested in the plaza as well. And, there are no rumors of any tenant, business or industry, that would bring anything more than minimum-wage jobs. Again, these are all rumors, as neither IHOP, LLC nor El Pollo Loco, Inc., returned calls by press time.
Tom Schaniel of TSchaniel Architecture of Bishop who is working on the plaza said that the owners are expected to announce news of the plaza in a press release next week.
Steve’s Auto Parts has changed its product line from Carquest to the NAPA line, following the closure of the NAPA Auto Parts store in Bishop. Steve Stevens, owner of Steves said customers can expect a wider selection of products than previously offered.
Soon to move into the former NAPA locale is Reagans Sporting Goods, run by Reagan Slee of Bishop.
Many established local eateries have invested heartily in remodeling and rehabilitation, including Bar-B-Que Bills, Taco Bell, Denny’s and the re-establishment of the Bishop Bean, formerly the Looney Bean in Bishop. And, there are improvements and changes for the best that the customers do not see, Thomson said.
Thomson added there are many hotels and motels also investing resources into making their businesses more attractive and, more importantly, she added, there is an optimistic view of the future.
“If they thought business was going to go down, I don’t think they would be putting resources into it,” she said. Thomson added that overall, these improvements lend to an air of optimism.
The Paiute Palace Casino is pouring money into refurbishing the exterior and remodeling its interior.
A few businesses have moved, including Astorgas Mexican Restaurant now at the corner of See Vee and North Sierra Highway. The Inyo Register moved from its long-time location on East Line to the Smart and Final shopping center. Rite-Way Pool and Spa moved from West Line to a corner space next to the Elks Lodge. Lyons Limited Custom Jewelers has moved to a Main Street location, and Dominics Family Hair moved one door to the east into the location of what was a barber shop since the 1940s.
New businesses to the area include; Hertz Rent-A-Car, next to IMACA on Main Street; Mountain View Veterinarian Hospital, next to Golden State Cycle in the former Vons building on Main Street; McMurrys and Cassells Collectibles next to McMurry’s Sports Bar also remodeled; and, Bonefide dog training on West Line; Little Caesars Pizza inside Kmart; and, Mammoth Hospital opening a physical therapy clinic on the corner of West Line and Home streets. This list does not include the many small businesses that have taken advantage of the Eastern Sierra Farmers Market and made the market their own store front.
The Bishop Care Center and Sterling Heights have changed hands from Horizon West to Plum Healthcare.
The current rental market is very subjective, according to some tenants and real estate agents. There are stories of businesses moving out of a location because the rent was too high. Once the space had been empty for months, the land lords decided to let a friend use the space for free, instead of letting it go empty. Thomson added that real estate agents are currently very busy.
More than a half-dozen businesses have come and gone in 2011.

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