Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yet another empty store front in store for Third Avenue's shopping district

At the last City council meeting much concern was offered up over the rather dire straits facing the city's business community, in particular the growing number of boarded up, or emptied out store fronts that line the city's once bustling shopping district.

The solution for some councillors last week was the now much discussed shifting of the tax burden from the commercial class to the residential tax payers, a slight shift that those in support are hopeful will stem the time of closures in the city.

That plan perhaps came too late for one Third Avenue business, as we've noticed the Store closing sign affixed to the windows of Belak Bambino Outfitters, the children's clothing store that replaced Please Mom a few years back in the very same Third Avenue location.

The departure of yet another downtown store provides much in the way of evidence as to the uncertain nature of the city's economy these days, with 2010 proving thus far to be one of retraction, as opposed to expansion.

Our Podunkian Business Tracker is finding that the departures are outnumbering the arrivals thus far in the year by over two to one, of those businesses that we've become aware of thus far (we are always looking for updates at podunkcan@yahoo.ca ), seven have closed, three have opened and two have shifted locations.

A situation that is leaving the downtown core looking a tad dishevelled these last few months and will no doubt make for much conversation amongst the visitors that cruise season will deliver to our downtown streets starting next month.

It's unsure at what point the commercial exodus will be reversed, the tough times of the last few years  have clearly taken their toll on the industrial and commercial sectors, as well, the lure of popular shopping options a little further down the highway has had an impact on the city's economy.

Perhaps the tax shift will provide some relief to those business owners still struggling to keep their doors open, but other measures as suggested by Councillor Thorkelson at the last council meeting may be more helpful to those ventures feeling the pressure of the times.

More importantly for the future of the city's merchant class is the need for some progress on the economic front, unless the economic picture of the city begins to change and with it a new influx of hopeful Rupertites, the prospect of more closures seems likely in the short term.

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