Inside Cherry Bomb Toys the market for Star Wars collectibles remains the main driving force for the business.
But there’s a dark side, as the pandemic makes every day a challenge for downtown retailers.
“It’s changing constantly. On a daily basis, you have to adapt quickly, and just make sure you make the best of your time every day, really, is what you are trying to do,” said B. Woodward, owner of Cherry Bomb Toys.
According to a new report from Colliers, downtown Victoria’s retail vacancy rate doubled last year from 3.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019 to six per cent 2020.
But it could have been much worse.
“Vacancy is really lower than we thought it was going to be when we were coming into this,” said Graham Smith, senior vice-president at Colliers’ Victoria office. “But it’s all due to government subsidy, that’s number one and then number two is, how do you come out of it that fragile businesses in our community can make a go of it?”
The hope now is the return of provincial employees to the downtown core once B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, eases public health orders.
As people get the vaccine it will also set up for a stronger comeback as locals support local businesses.
“I also think Greater Victorians have been very strong in their support for local business,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the Downtown Business Improvement Association. “Making purposeful shopping decisions like that.”
And it’s not just customers helping support local businesses, but businesses helping each other.
“The local comradery is definitely increased,” according to Woodward. “If you’re into a coffee shop or if you are into another bookstore, we’ll do our best to push you in the direction of, if we don’t have it we’ll do our best to help you with a local store.”
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