Business owner hopeful bridge reopening brings people back to West Seattle

The closure of the West Seattle Bridge has essentially cut off some businesses from customers who live outside the neighborhood.

SEATTLE – Businesses in West Seattle have been dealing with a double whammy since the West Seattle Bridge closed in March 2020. The closure came the same month that the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc on our lives and the economy for the first time.

The bridge is vital to the neighborhood. If Seattle is the body and West Seattle is the heart, the damaged bridge has been a deadlock for the past 2.5 years.

“I never really knew what that was [West Seattle Bridge] meant until we didn’t have it anymore,” said Keonii Maneha, owner of Fleurt Collective.

Maneha’s business in the heart of West Seattle was booming through March 2020. As the pandemic upended the economy, Maneha said the bridge’s closure essentially cut off her business from customers living outside of West Seattle.

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“It impacted me personally, but definitely impacted me professionally,” Maneha said. “[The reopening is] very exciting and very emotional.”

Maneha has put her blood, sweat and tears into selling online which has kept her store alive during the pandemic and bridge closure.

“I’m very thankful for social media,” Maneha explained. “I don’t think we would have survived without it. I mean, it was a candidate, every single day, 24 hours a day, who was basically trying to keep my business afloat.”

People are the life of the community in West Seattle, and Maneha believes the bridge’s reopening will bring them back.

Maneha runs Fleurt Collective all by herself but is looking for staff for the upcoming holidays as she anticipates a very busy season.

“I think we’re going to see a huge, massive influx of different neighborhoods over here in the next few weeks,” Maneha said. “It’s really exciting. It feels like a fever dream. I plan to drive over [the bridge] the first day I can.”

The West Seattle Bridge will officially open to traffic on Sunday, September 18th.

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