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Kent small businesses frustrated new ice rink negatively affects their business

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 01, 2021

KENT, Ohio — As many are excited about the ice-skating rink in downtown Kent, some small businesses aren’t happy about it.

At Waves Salon + Co on the inside, they're working hard cutting and styling hair while on the outside people are gliding on an ice skating rink that was put a few months ago

“We showed up one day in October and our entire street was closed down,” owner of Waves Salon + Co Chelsea Szalay said.

People can easily walk up and skate on the rink but it sits in the place of parking spots and handicap accessibility that businesses would use in the area.

“We are being hit hard, though. Wintertime is our busiest season and we have already seen clients who are extremely mad about parking,” said Szalay.

Some have even gone as far as canceling their appointments which ultimately hurts their business that is already stretched thin because of the pandemic.

“With the holiday season coming up and ladies wanting to get their hair done, we thought alright, this is our chance to kind of gain our feet. Then this happens and it's like another hit all over again,” said Szalay.

Since the rink has been put up Chelsea says they lost nearly 30 clients per month. Each costing about $100-$200 totaling in a $3,000 to $6,000 dollar loss in profit per month.

News 5 reached out to Parta, the owner of the building and leader in discussion between the city and Kent State surrounding their complaints. They told News 5 they've made efforts to fix the problem.

“We’re giving them basically free parking in the deck for their employees. We'll have a voucher system in place for their clients so they can validate their parking,” said Claudia Amrhein General Manager and CEO of Parta area, Regional Transportation Authority.

They have also included, a free marketing deal to make up for lost business stating this was never their goal.

“There is no intent to do any harm or disservice to anyone. This was fully intended to be a community partnership that the university could bring a fun event to downtown, said Amrhein.

But Szalay says the marketing won't help them and the vouchers are 50 dollars a month which wouldn’t even cover 10% of their clients' parking.

“So if we were like a storefront or somewhere where people off the street could come in and buy something or you know, get some food or anything that would be great. But with us, especially during the holiday season, we are an appointment-based only salon. So we booked through the holidays through the new year,” said Szalay.

Parta says they plan to continue to work with them and the other frustrated businesses to see what they can do to fix the problem. News 5 reached out to the city and they did not get back to us

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