July 10, 2003


Nuts About Fudge closes, Bruning’s plans to relocate

Citing a decline in sales, one downtown retail shop closed last week and another plans to move later this summer.

The owners of both Nuts About Fudge and Bruning’s Clock Shop said that even with support from out-of-town visitors they could not sustain their businesses here. Both store owners plan to reopen their businesses at locations outside of Yellow Springs.

Mike Yegerlehner, the owner of Bruning’s, said that he had considered closing his Yellow Springs shop several times during the past year because store sales have been down all year. For example, the store’s sales in June this year are down 50 percent from June 2002, according to Yegerlehner.

Foot traffic has also declined, Yegerlehner said. In the past, on a typical Saturday 50 to 75 people may have passed through the store but this past Saturday only 20 to 30 people came through the door, he said. The number of visitors has steadily declined in recent years, he said.

“The store is not generating the numbers it used to,” Yegerlehner said. “Since 9/11, from that point on, things have slowly dropped off.”

Yegerlehner said that he hasn’t decided on an exact closing date, though Bruning’s may close at the end of July.

Nuts About Fudge has faced similar challenges, which prompted business owner Kevin Martin to close his store last month. Martin cleared out the store’s inventory last Monday, June 28. Martin also noticed a reduction in foot traffic through his store during the past year, and the shop’s reduced sales could not offset the high cost of rent and unreliable labor Martin said he experienced in Yellow Springs.

Retail space in the village is comparable to areas in South Florida, where people make more money and have more disposable income, Martin said. He has opened similar candy and snack stores in that area in recent years.

“Real estate in Yellow Springs has gotten too high, and the businesses who are renting space cannot afford to keep it,” Martin said.

Both business owners say that their main customer base came from people who visited Yellow Springs on weekends, who are especially numerous in the summer. Many of the businesses’ customers live in Springfield and Xenia, and Yegerlehner said Bruning’s attracts a significant number of shoppers from Columbus as well.

Neither business owner lives in Yellow Springs, and both run other business venues in the area. Yegerlehner owns two other Bruning’s Clock Shops, in Centerville and in Huber Heights, which he plans to consolidate into a new store on Fairfield Road in mid-October.

Martin also owns the Nut Haus in Kings Yard in Yellow Springs and runs regular concession operations at fairs and carnivals during the summer. In addition, Martin is the main food vendor for the Inventing Flight celebration in Dayton, and he also runs retail outfits in Florida in the winter while store managers run his businesses in this area.

While Martin has had difficulty finding reliable retail help for the Nuts About Fudge store in his absence, Nut Haus store managers have taken good care of the store for four years. Martin said he plans to keep it open for the foreseeable future.

Bruning’s also has had a reliable manager, Becky Parker, who will continue to work at the consolidated store in the fall, even though she said she would rather stay in Yellow Springs.

“I came here from the Springfield Mall in 1996, and I like Yellow Springs because of the pace and because it’s mellow,” Parker said. “I’m sure it’s going to be great for the business, but it’s something I’m going to have to get used to.”

Sherryl Kostic, the owner of “would you, could you” In A Frame, said that she also has noticed a serious reduction in traffic at her store in the past year. Though she doesn’t keep statistics, she said the number of weekend shoppers at In A Frame is down from this time last year. During the week it is “next to nothing,” she said.

“Thoughts are going through my head like, how long am I even going to be able to be here?” she said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of quality stuff I have here. If no one comes in, I’m not selling.”

Deaton’s Do it Best hardware store also noticed a severe decline in business this year, which store manager Kathy McLemore attributes to the weather. The cold spring and recent weeks of rain have kept customers at the malls or at home, she said.

Ohio Silver’s owner Marcia Wallgren agreed that the cold spring weather, as well as high gas prices and the Iraqi war, brought business down toward the beginning of the year. But June sales were higher than usual, she said, and this month is only slightly down from last year at the same time. She has confidence that things will right themselves, Walgren said.

But at least one other Xenia Avenue retail store, Bonadies Glasstudio, reported business is average if not better than average. The store’s retail sales are about average for this time of year, and custom glass work is slightly higher than usual, store owner Valerie Huffman said.

“As long as the weather’s good, people are coming,” she said.

People have come for more than 20 years to the local clock shop. Yegerlehner bought the store from local resident Henry Myers, who had owned the business, which at the time was called Clockworks, since 1980. Myers still owns the building in which Bruning’s is located and is currently looking for another retailer.

Nuts About Fudge, which sold candy, ice cream and kids’ toys, opened in October 2001. The store had a Yellow Springs following and support from area residents, Martin said, but it wasn’t enough to keep the store afloat. The retail space is owned by Bob Baldwin, who is currently advertising the empty shop for rent.

—Lauren Heaton