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Algiers Point businesses facing hard times with no ferry service

"Should I close? Should I drastically reduce my hours? Should I get another job?"

NEW ORLEANS — Across the river, in Algiers Point, it's tranquil, peaceful and quiet. But not all is well. 

Business owners are fuming because they don't know when, or even if, the ferry will resume service. 

"I can't order products for my shop," said shop owner Beatrix Bell. "I can't order 50 bars of soap if I'm only going to have one tourist come in the shop a week."

Her business in Algiers has taken a big hit.

"My sales are down 85-90 percent," she said. "I'm thinking...should I close? Should I drastically reduce my hours? Should I get another job?"

Neil Timms owns the Crown and Anchor, also in Algiers. He's suffered from the lack of customers. 

"Our sales are down by 30% without the ferries," he said. "Two-thirds of our business is local and regulars. The other third is traffic from the ferries." 

RELATED: 'I feel very cheated'- RTA ferry situation boils frustrations for Algiers residents

Earlier in November, Regional Transit Authority CEO Alex Wiggins announced the agency was in the process of finding a new operator for the ferry. He said they were awaiting the results of a report to determine when the new ferries would be ready to finally pass Coast Guard inspections needed to carry passengers.

"There was no information coming, then it came out it was going to be a couple of months, Mr. Wiggins had a meeting at the ferry landing, and that hasn't happened," Timms said. 

RELATED: Algiers Point business owners say they're cutting staff and operating hours with ferry out of service

The looming question of the ferries is why Algiers business owners are glad people were supporting them on Small Business Saturday.

Maryann Miller, program manager for the organizing group StayLocal, said people buying local for the holidays have an impact on the community.

"Spending 10 percent of your holiday budget, which is a pretty modest amount, will have a huge effect on the local economy. Millions of tax dollars annually, millions of dollars a year support a local economy if people spend 10 percent," Miller said.

RELATED: Scramble on to get new ferry boats or replacement boats by end of year

RELATED: After a year of failed inspections, still no launch date in sight for new RTA ferries

That 10 percent would help small businesses survive, at least until the ferry is back.

"I'm hoping the ferry is running by January 1. I'm hoping for some answers so I can plan my own life," Bell said. 

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