Parkade demolition might defeat some businesses
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Demolition crews are deconstructing the Front Street parkade. Unsurprisingly, the massive undertaking, begun in early February, has brought about the first phase of hardships for nearby businesses. Recently, local owners from The Wine Factory and Antique Alley Movie Props have spoken out to news outlets, placing the blame of reduced business upon the demolition.
Antique Alley owner Craig Ruttle explained to Global News how sales have significantly dropped compared to last year’s numbers, and Harm Woldring’s business, The Wine Factory, is taking the same hits.
“Traffic in downtown New Westminster is so terrible that customers are just not coming to town,” said Woldring to Global News. He’s the first to consider a permanent closing by March, should sales not improve.
“I sold $120 in two days. Normally, we need $1,000 a day to keep the doors open.”
In an effort to keep Front Street alive until the end of construction by July, the City of New Westminster has been regularly sharing their #UncoveringFrontStreet blog posts. Additionally, signs have been placed around the area and digital posters at Skytrain stations are still in rotation.
The Strong Side Conditioning Gym, Westley Military Surplus, Quay Pacific Property Management, Rain City Juicery, and Old Crow Coffee Co. spent time answering some inquiries.
When asked to explain any shift in business since Front Street construction began, all companies have seen a distinct drop in foot traffic, with the exception of Old Crow Coffee Co.
“I would say that it has brought more people down to our shop because there is so much buzz around town about the closures and the construction. It seems that our patrons have…made a point to continue coming to show their support,” noted an employee from the coffee shop.
Understandably, while the companies have seen a drop in walk-by foot traffic, many are taking different approaches in order to pay the bills. While all have invested more in a greater social media presence, Westley Military Surplus has been trying to direct traffic sales online, Rain City Juicery delivers door-to-door, and Quay Pacific Property Management relies on phone and email correspondence between customers, with some employees in offices away from Front Street.
All businesses that were contacted made it clear that they have no intentions to close any time soon, with hopes to brace through the next couple of months and emerge victorious by the end of summer.
“The future looks bright since we have seen many improvements to the area, and once Front Street is done with its renovations, it will look fantastic! Hopefully it will be drawing in more people in the summer,” commented Westley Military Surplus.
While the hope for success remains, potential potholes still exist.
“[Some businesses might still suffer] after [redevelopments] when they have to renew their leases,” added Strong Side Conditioning Gym.“Because of the improvements, all of a sudden, their rent is going to double or triple, leading to them either having to fold…or struggle under lease costs similar to Vancouver. Some would argue that this is how free market economies work—the strong and innovative survive.”
When looking towards the future, Rain City Juicery hopes fellow Front Street businesses, especially those who might consider closing shop, will weather the storm at all costs.
“We are confident [for a successful outcome]. The Wine Factory has a long standing history with the city. Gems are hidden.”