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Robert Street is open for business during construction. West St. Paul is trying to spread that message using every outlet it can: Facebook, newspaper ads, a newsletter, videos, even T-shirts.

Shops and restaurants along the street have seen a drop in customers since the city began redoing its main thoroughfare in May. A couple of merchants estimated their declines at 20 percent, while two others said they'd seen a 5 percent drop.

The City Council is trying to ease business owners' pain. Officials approved $30,000 in promotional spending last week.

In addition, the city has spent around $170,000 to hire Zan Associates as a business liaison. The firm holds a weekly meeting to hear business owners' concerns. And an already planned circulator bus runs along the corridor.