TailsSpin to close in downtown Macon

adrury@macon.comDecember 10, 2013 

TailsSpin

TailsSpin in downtown Macon will be closing at the end of the year. The store specialized in natural pet foods.

WOODY MARSHALL — wmarshall@macon.com Buy Photo

TailsSpin, a pet food and accessories store that won a $50,000 contest to help it launch in downtown Macon, is closing at the end of the month.

“We found it very hard to make ends meet,” Jusak Yang Bernhard said Tuesday from Chatham County, where he and business partner Jeff Manley also own TailsSpins in Savannah and Pooler. “We love the location, but we just can’t make it work.”

The Dec. 31 closing comes almost two years after TailsSpin beat out 15 other finalists for the grand prize package in the Macon Mogul business contest. Part of the prize was free rent for a year in their Mulberry Street location.

Mike Ford, president and CEO of downtown booster group NewTown Macon, said NewTown “really thought they had a great chance to succeed. ... I’m so disappointed.”

Bernhard and Manley laid part of the blame for the store’s failure on downtown parking issues and a general lack of support, even from those who were supposed to promote them.

“The people who are supposed to be promoting downtown Macon, if they would shop at our store, we would be OK,” Bernhard said, declining to elaborate publicly. He also said there are “too many downtown organizations bickering and not working together.”

Manley said going to downtown restaurants doesn’t necessarily help retail there.

“There’s this big push to shop local. (People) may be eating local and drinking local, but they’re not shopping local.”

Bernhard pointed specifically to parking challenges as a reason his store is shutting its doors.

“I’m not sure Macon is ready for retail in downtown because of the parking situation,” he said. “Some of our customers go around and leave because they can’t find parking.”

Ford said he understands the owners’ parking concerns.

“In retrospect, a more accessible location would have worked better for them,” he said of the Mulberry Street location that the TailsSpin owners chose. “I knew people were having to park and walk and carry large bags of dog food.”

Regarding concerns about too many conflicting interests in the downtown groups, Ford said a newly launched master plan will help coordinate and streamline downtown planning among various groups.

“I think the customer base was coming with all of the lofts” that are being built downtown, Ford said. “I think (TailsSpin) got ahead of that curve a little bit.”

Ford said TailsSpin will not be asked to pay back any of the prize package.

To contact writer Andy M. Drury, call 744-4477.

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