By Brad Edwards

(CBS) – A Lakeview merchant running against the local alderman says work crews blocked parking outside his business at the worst possible time—the last-minute stretch for holiday shoppers.

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports.

“This is when we make our living,” Mark Thomas, owner of The Alley on Clark Street, says of December.

Imagine Thomas’ surprise when he arrived at his store Friday and found construction crews and posted parking restrictions for the next two weeks.

He pulled out all the stops, and they pulled out. But then Monday, there was another “no parking” restriction imposed. Peoples Gas was doing utility work in connection with a nearby demolition.

Thomas is running against the 44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney, who says there is no connection.

“We didn’t know.  The minute I found out I made calls,” he told CBS 2. “I want them to have good Christmas sales, and I want to protect small businesses.”

Thomas is facing signature and residency challenges in his bid for alderman.

Tunney said Peoples Gas won’t do the work and cut off parking until after the holiday.