Local business struggling due to years-long construction

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 7:08 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - A years-long construction project in South Lubbock County is creating a list of issues for a longtime business.

Delays on the project are leaving one family’s livelihood hanging in the balance.

As you walk into Bernards near Highway 87 and FM 41, the regulars can see it’s changed in the past few years.

“Oh, it was booming,” shop owner Herrlinda Thrash said. “We were fully staffed. We didn’t have time sometimes to breathe.”

That changed in 2021, after a new construction project started on the front doorstep of her family business.

“We didn’t think we were going to get shut off completely,” Thrash said. “We were pretty much landlocked when they started.”

A farmer eventually gave the Thrashes permission to create a temporary driveway through part of his land so customers can get the store.

“We were telling every customer that we could, to go through there, that we had permission to use that,” Thrash said. “So slowly, we started to get customers back.”

But the shop hasn’t fully recovered, with much of the store filled with empty boxes and bare shelves.

“We can’t keep purchasing stuff just to throw it away,” Thrash said.

Orange cones and road work signs extend for more than a mile down Highway 87 in front of Bernards, with that construction cutting the business off from part of FM 41 and a large chunk of their client base.

The nearest turnaround is down the road, prompting many protentional customers to drive on to next store.

“Customers complained they found other places to go to because we weren’t very convenient,” Thrash said.

Thrash says she and her husband created a three-year budget to account for the loss of business, but delays have extended the timeline.

“It’s going to take us a year and a half longer for what we had budgeted originally,” Thrash said.

The situation made tougher with three young boys to raise, and Thrash’s husband stationed at Fort Bliss for the past year.

The Thrashes took over the store nearly four years ago, but Bernards has served customers from Lubbock to Lamesa for nearly 50.

Loyal customers are hoping the Thrashes can pull through.

“We’ve had several people, loyal customers that have begged us, please don’t shut the doors,” Thrash said. “We are hanging on by the skin of our teeth, but we’re not giving up, obviously. We’re just taking it day by day.”