Some Austin businesses forced to close due to SXSW


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News and photojournalist Dathan Hull

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on March 16, 2012 at 10:54 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 16 at 3:56 PM

AUSTIN -- The City of Austin estimates SXSW generates about $167 million. Some business owners say, while they love the event and realize its economic importance to the city, they just wish they could turn a profit instead of taking a loss.

"I read there was a New Yorkers guide to SXSW," said Ruth England, the owner of Rogue Running. "They said, 'Go to the East side.  It is the hot place in town.'  I was like, 'No, not the East side! Please go somewhere else.'"

Rouge Running specializes in running shoes and apparel. You would think she would love all the foot traffic around her shop on 5th and San Marcos streets.

"Not foot traffic for people who do what we do," said England.  "They are here to party.  They are here to smoke.  They are here to drink.  They are here to listen to music.  They are not here to buy running shoes."

England says as SXSW continues to grow, so do the number of street closures which have set up a roadblock to her profits. She says she is now forced to close her shop for five days every year at this time.

"Right now I am looking at $15,000 in lost revenue," said England.

England says in the past she tried to remain open.

"I think our best day one year was a $100," said England.  "That is a pair of shoes.  That was a lot less than what it cost to have the lights on and have the employees stay and everything else that goes with it."

"I think there are a lot of businesses like this," said Lee Valleley, the owner of Redbird Pilates and Fitness.

Valleley's business is also located on 5th and San Marcos streets. It is also another business that has been forced to close up shop during this week of SXSW.

"It became an inconvenience for our client base, and they were not able to get here," said Valleley.  "I think we are kind of a little bit of the silent minority right now.  We just want to collaborate with the city to help us lease out our studio.  We have a beautiful studio for events or a venue.  We would like the city to work with us."