By Kristin Bednarski
Jungle Jim’s International Market in Eastgate has attracted thousands of shoppers since it opened Sept. 25, and now businesses surrounding the store are reaping the benefits of increased traffic in the area.
Restaurant and store managers near Jungle Jim’s have said they are already noticing an increase in traffic since the store has opened.
“I have noticed a difference in the afternoon 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.,” Rene Newcomb, manager of Perkins in Eastgate, said. “It is usually a slow time for us and since Jungle Jim’s opened, we’ve picked up a lot then.”
Newcomb said Mondays and Tuesdays have also picked up at the restaurant.
She said they were hoping Jungle Jim’s would bring a lot of new customers into their restaurant when it opened.
“I think it is going well,” Newcomb said. “Traffic has definitely increased. We are definitely glad to have it close.”
Patty Elliot, the general manager for Bob Evans in Eastgate, also said she has noticed an increase in traffic since the store opened.
“I think we have had more traffic in the afternoons, because I think people are going over there and shopping and it is taking them a while to get through the store,” Elliot said. “Customers tell us they have come from there.”
Elliot also said she is glad to have Jungle Jim’s in the area.
“I think it is a great asset for our area having the store there,” Elliot said. “I have been in once and I was impressed.”
Gerhardt Getter, manager of Sonic in Eastgate, said he was worried about the traffic the new Jungle Jim’s would create in the area.
“There is a little more traffic and people from different areas coming through,” Getter said. “For the most part the county has handled the roadways well.”
Stores close to Jungle Jim’s are also noticed some changes since Jungle Jim’s opened.
Gerard Gilden, manager at Bed Bath and Beyond, located on Eastgate Boulevard, said it is hard to say for certain sales have increased since Jungle Jim’s has opened, but he too has noticed positive changes.
“I am extremely glad it is there,” Gilden said. “They have cleaned up a whole side of the street. I am hoping the other strip mall also cleans up.”
Gilden said the store is definitely positive for the community and feels traffic will continue to increase in the area as the word spreads about Jungle Jim’s.
“I am expecting to see more traffic during Christmas because everyone comes to the outlying counties,” Gilden said. “I think people are going to come in to go to Jungle Jim’s and then they are going to go shopping.”
Jim Dygan, manager of Michaels, which is across from Jungle Jim’s, said although their sales are already up from last year, he believes the traffic has increased 3-5 percent since Jungle Jim’s opened last month.
“Just talking to customers we have heard a lot of them comment about Jungle Jim’s,” Dygan said. “We have heard people say they’ve come from there.”
Dygan said having Jungle Jim’s in the shopping center is definitely a driver for the economy in the local area.
He said he is hoping it influences more businesses to open in the area, including in the strip mall where Michaels is located.
“The pod we are in has a lot of openings,” Dygan said.
Dygan said he feels it would be a smart move for any business owner with Jungle Jim’s right across the street.
“Anywhere you have the atmosphere of a retail environment there is more traffic,” Dygan said. “Generally people go to one place and then to another.”