With construction ongoing along Hwy. 249 and FM 1774—two major north-south thoroughfares between Tomball and Magnolia—local business owners stuck in the middle are taking additional measures to attract customers.

“The [Greater Tomball Area] Chamber [of Commerce] is very much aware of the possibility of the loss of business, and we feel confident with plans the construction companies are making to alleviate as much loss as possible,” President Bruce Hillegeist said.TOM-2017-5-11-2

Eric and Cecilia Hays, owners of Believers Pawn, located on Hwy. 249 in Tomball, said construction of the Tomball Tollway—the tolled portion of Hwy. 249—has torn up about half of the business’s parking lot, which has affected the amount of customer traffic.

“Our traffic count is definitely down, and overall business has declined some,” Eric Hays said. “Interestingly, we’ve picked up a lot of new customers in construction workers.”

The Harris County Toll Road Authority began construction in March on Tomball Tollway Phase 2, which extends the existing tollway from FM 2920 to Spring Creek and is expected to wrap up in winter 2019, HCTRA officials said.

Although access to CrossFit Igneous, located on Hwy. 249 in Tomball, will be altered during construction, owner Matthew Davis said he has few concerns.

“We’ve got a really good thing going,” he said. “I’m hoping with the [tollway] being closer that we’ll be able to [attract] more members that way.”

To maintain its customer base, Cecilia said Believers Pawn is working to increase online purchasing options, in-store promotions, local advertising and its social media presence.

“The traffic on [Hwy.] 249 is going to increase [and] obviously the area is growing, so I think in the long run, we’ll have actually more visibility,” she said.

Regina Pickering, owner of The Golden Peacock, located on FM 1774 in Magnolia, said she is also amping up her social media and advertising efforts to attract customers during construction through additional signage, mailed fliers and local advertisements.

The Texas Department of Transportation is working to widen FM 1774 from two to four lanes between West Lost Creek Boulevard and FM 149. Work is expected to be complete in September 2018, according to TxDOT officials.

Pickering said although she has not noticed a significant change in customer traffic, she believes slow-moving traffic caused by construction has drawn new customers to the store.

Pickering said she is renting her current location for the next six years—enough time to see the widening project to completion and the possible business benefits it may bring.

“I’m glad it happened sooner rather than later,” she said. “Once [TxDOT is] done, I’ll be able to stand at the window and wave at [drivers]. That’s how close it’s going to be, so I’m excited about that.”