Hixson Dealing with Multiple Business Closings
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – A group of Hixson businesses have either recently closed or are about to close.
Hixson has long been one of the primary retail districts in Chattanooga, serving residents of central and northern Hamilton County.
However, in recent months if you’ve been up and down Hixson Pike or Highway 153, you’ve likely noticed several long-standing businesses in the community have vanished.
This is raising concerns among those who live and do business there.
For the owners of J. Gumbo’s, a Cajun Food Restaurant in Hixson, husband and wife Rajeev Bhatia and Meena Seth, seeing several businesses in the area close is troubling.
Seth said, “Owning a business is amazing and wonderful, but these days we’ve seen a lot of problems here. So many businesses have shut down and it’s scary.”
In recent days, Best Buy and Bed, Bath, and Beyond announced they are closing their doors on Highway 153 by the end of the spring.
Both stores sent statements that they elected to not renew their leases.
We were told off the record that rising rent in Best Buy’s lease factored into their decision.
The Bed, Bath, and Beyond closure is one of 87 store closings across the country for the troubled chain.
This is on top of several restaurant closings like Cici’s Pizza, Bojangles, Steak and Shake, Hardee’s and O’Charley’s in recent months.
Every single one of these chains still have locations open in other parts of the area.
The question for many is, why is Hixson seeing such a high rate of closings?
Bhatia and Seth have operated J. Gumbo’s for 8 years, and they say there are numerous factors that are likely contributing to these issues.
Seth said, “People cannot keep help anymore. Inflation, right now inflation is one of the causes. Eggs that used to cost $1.69 are like seven dollars.”
Bhatia added, “Rent hikes. The people who don’t own the place, they pay rent, and it just trickles down.”
They say the centerpiece of Hixson, Northgate Mall, and its relative decline versus the success of Hamilton Place and other areas of the city, might be a factor.
Bhatia said, “If you look at Hamilton Place Mall and Northgate, Northgate Mall seems like a depressing kind of place. I think it needs just a little bit more personality.”
However, they hold hope that this is just a rough stretch for the area, and it will thrive once again as new kinds of businesses change the landscape of Hixson.
Bhatia said, “There’s a driving force to bring something different.
Seth added, “I’m sure for Hixson, it will get better. I’m very hopeful with people coming in, and it’s not just me, they go everywhere, and they try to support small businesses.”
We asked Hixson residents why they are seeing these closings in their community on the Hixson Grapevine Community Facebook page and received hundreds of responses to the inquiry.
They echoed many of the sentiments shared by Bhatia and Seth about inflation, a lack of available workers, and the lack of unique options in the Hixson area.
For J. Gumbo’s, they are grateful for the regulars they have, and hope to keep serving Hixson for years to come.
They are preparing for their busiest time of the year as they will celebrate Mardi Gras.