Decades-old salon moves from downtown Victoria as new occupancy reports are released


It’s been a great run for a business, downtown or otherwise, and John Carreiro doesn’t want to close up shop.

“This is coming from customers,” says Carreiro, owner of Carreiro Studio Salon on Broad Street in downtown Victoria.

Carreiro has two other locations in Duncan and Royal Oak, and  conversations with customers dictated a major shift.

“When we ask people in our Broadmead location to fill a vacancy they say ‘absolutely not. I can’t park, I can’t do this or that.’ There’s tons of excuses why,” he says.

The space will soon be up for lease. It’s a curious mix of a sunny storefront reception area with a sprawling downstairs studio space. If it remains empty it’ll become part of the 9.2 per cent vacancy rate for storefront spaces, according to Colliers.

Ty Whittaker of Colliers says vacancy in office space in Greater Victoria sits at just under seven per cent, which is favourable from a national perspective.

“Compared to Calgary, for example, which is about 30 per cent.” A new report by Colliers says there is about 9 million square feet of office space in Greater Victoria, much of which is leased by the government.

“Fifty per cent of our market is government,” says Whittaker. “They’re continuing to do their renewals but they also have this policy that their employees don’t have to come to work every day.”

That means while vacancy is low, so too is occupancy. Whittaker says he’s heard office attendance in some government buildings is as low as 30 to 50 per cent. Proverbially, the lights are on but nobody’s home.

“Leasing activity is not super concerning,” says Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Victoria Business Association. “Of course attendance in the office is more the issue.”

Bray says while the 9-5 economy is taking a hit, that void will be filled by more people calling downtown home as more downtown residences are built.

Other businesses are upping their stake downtown, like Lululemon, which is moving from its space on Johnson Street to a sprawling new location at the foot of Wharf and Government in the newly-developed Custom House building.

While the city and province continues to grapple with problems surrounding its unhoused population and street crime downtown, it’s a case of too little too late for Carreiro.

“It’s a beautiful city. But it’s mismanaged.”

As for what he’d like to see in the space on Broad Street, he answers with a smile.

“Me,” he laughs.

Unfortunately for him, that’s not in store.

Jordan CunninghamJordan Cunningham

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