Business has returned to Jayne Barrett's clothing store on State Circle in Annapolis.
It's not as brisk as it was last year, but it's infinitely better than it was during the eight months her customers had to tramp through mud to get to her store, The Salt Box.
"The people on the circle took the brunt of this," Barrett said. "We're the ones who had the street and the sidewalk torn up."
The city began rebuilding State Circle in March and finished in November. They rebricked the street and sidewalks and buried overhead power lines.
They also made a mess. The section of the circle in front of Barrett's shop took two months longer to complete than officials had expected; delays were caused by problems with water valves and buried fuel tanks that crews discovered.
Overall, however, the $2.9 million project was completed on time.
Merchants complained that construction was hurting business. Along with city and state officials, they held promotions to boost sagging business.
The shoppers returned only temporarily; construction soon shooed them away again.
The circle reopened Nov. 27, in time to bring shoppers in for the holidays. A few merchants said their business is up, but most said they aren't doing as well as they did last year.
"Christmas has not been as good as in past years, but we won't know until next year whether it was the construction or the recession," Barrett said.
"Our Christmas season has been very strong," said Joyce Kaminkow, owner of the Annapolis Country Store on Maryland Avenue. "Our numbers are running about 10 percent above last year."
The merchants agree on one thing -- they all said they like the rebuilt State Circle.
"It looks beautiful," Kaminkow said. "My only regret is that they didn't do Maryland Avenue while they were at it."
The merchants said "Midnight Madness," when downtown stores stayed open until midnight on Dec. 14, was a big success. "Some people said, 'Why not do it a second time or even once a week?'," said Joan Groat, owner of Joan's Gems and president of the Maryland Avenue/State Circle Association.
Two stores left Maryland Avenue during construction, Groat said, but the buildings were filled quickly. Maryland Avenue Boutique is now Objects of Interest, and Personalities is now Remember When.
Of the two, Groat said only the departure of Personalities may have been connected to the construction.
"A lot of us had to tighten our belts and be careful with our buying and everything, but it appears everyone came through OK," Kaminkow said.
Groat said she thinks Maryland Avenue merchants will always have their place in the city's economy.
"Malls have their place," Groat said. "If people want unique shops with personal service, they'll come here."