Out of all the businesses affected by the construction in downtown Muncie, The Downtown Farm Stand has taken one of the hardest hits, says the owner.

Dave Ring, owner of The Downtown Farm Stand, said he has lost 30 percent of sales during the current construction project.

“Every business downtown has been affected negatively," Ring said. "Every single one.”

His business includes the storefront and deli in downtown, a home delivery service and a farm on which the food sold is grown. Ring set up shop in downtown Muncie because he wanted to provide a fresh grocery store to inner-city residents and to create a community.

“I think downtown is important because it represents an alternative Muncie. An alternative to big chain stores, an alternative to big box corporations,” Ring said. “[Downtown] is a place where people get together and everybody knows everybody by name. It is a symbol of the way our community should be going in terms of connecting with people in your community.”

While Ring recognizes that the structural parts of the construction project are necessary and will be beneficial to businesses once they are completed, he thinks that the project has been a detriment to local businesses.

“The separation of the storm and sanitary sewers, you know, it’s needed; it’s mandated. And they did the streetscaping of Walnut at the exact same time. So they combined different projects to be done all at once,” Ring said. “Generally, we grow every year, but we’re not going to be back at that steady growth curve until they get Jackson street opened back up.”

Ring also does not fully support the modern design of downtown.

“Not everything has to be pristine and new and perfect to be good. I think that things can have a rustic, authentic look and still be attractive to people,” Ring said.

One reason why Ring thinks local shops and restaurants are suffering is because city officials do not value small business enough.

“I just think that some officials aren’t really in touch with local businesses because they don’t understand the value they provide," Ring said. "I think maybe they’re [taken] for granted and there seems to be a lot of pushing for chain stores by the city." 

Ring thinks the number-one thing that small business brings to a city is the sense of community it provides.

“I don’t think there’s any question about that. People need to be in touch with their friends, their neighbors, the other people that are around. Gathering places are very important,” Ring said. “It’s kind of one of the intangible benefits that is often lost [by big corporations].”

Although he said he requested that the city starts a public relations program near the beginning of construction, Ring thinks his wish went unnoticed by city officials. So, to alleviate the loss of business, The Downtown Farm Stand began promoting its own events.

“I don’t know if we’d still be open if we weren’t doing [in-house events],” Ring said. “We get a lot of people in to look on First Thursday, but it’s not typically something that generates sales. Our in-house events tend to be what generate the most sales for us.”

The construction project is on track to be completed by Oct. 6, in time for First Thursday, a monthly art walk.