Hot Springs Nat'l Park shutdown hurting already struggling local businesses

HOT SPRINGS (KATV) -{}Four days after the government shutdown closes a national park , local businesses begin to suffer.

Hot Springs National Park is one of many to close as a result of the government shutdown. But now dozens of local stores who depend on the park's visitors are seeing their profits start to dwindle.

The{}park attracts thousands of visitors each year and there to do business with them are dozens of locally owned stores. But one business owner says with a closed park, and hardly any tourists some other things may also end up shutting down.

"I tried to go to the tower and to the park and it was closed," said Steve Bourgeois, a tourist from Louisiana.

For the first time since 1995 tourists stopped by the famous Hot Springs with hardly any springs to see and not much of a camping experience to have.

"The cascade's shut down," said Jeff Taylor, a resident Hot Springs. "It is a little slower down here and the camp ground's empty."

It's the first weekend since the government shutdown began on Wednesday and what is an inconvenience for tourists is becoming a financial concern for business owners losing hundreds of potential customers.

"If you cant go to the national park and see why come?" said Vickie Collie, co-owner of Spa City Convenience Store.

Much of Collie's foot traffic has come to a halt along with the government.

"They come into the store, they get their healthy food, they get their Gatorade and they get ready to hike the mountain," she said.

All this comes at a time when many business owners are hanging on by a string.

"This is one of the worst summers they've had down here in many, many years," said Collie.

She says it's all leading to painful questions.

"If there's no business how are you going to pay your rent? If there's no business how are you going to pay your employees?" she said.

And since these entrepreneurs can't have a say in the government shut down, some will likely have to face a painful decision.

"There have been a few that have closed already just in the past month and I will say that there will be more that will have to decide what to do," said Collie.

Channel 7{}reported earlier{}in the{}week that after residents took down the barricades the park staff decided to keep them down. So there are some locals that are using the parks at their own risk. Collie says this has helped bring some customers back just not enough.



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