A longtime Nanaimo business is being forced to close its doors for the final time Saturday, Sept. 30 in the wake of declining traffic and sales in the downtown. Skye Ryan reports.
Catwalk Fashions has been on Nanaimo’s most visible downtown corner at Commercial Street and Terminal Avenue for 10 years but says it can’t afford to keep open any longer.
This closure means three of four corners of the busy intersection at Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street will now have closed up storefronts.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Catwalk employee Sydney Needham. “As an employee who works here, it’s really hard not to see it coming just with the decline in traffic and the decline in sales. But I will say that every customer basically that comes in is shocked.”
The shop’s owner says she fought the decision for years, but in the end, couldn’t take any more losses with the increase in online shopping and dropping traffic downtown.
“It’s kind of the cornerstone of local shopping,” said Needham “Where you go oh it’s right across from Catwalk or it’s right across the street from Catwalk and we’re not going to have that anymore.”
When the prominent storefront goes dark, it will be the third of four corners where businesses have closed, adding to the boarded-up former A & B Sound building and the empty Acme Restaurant. Nanaimo artist Dale Schulz says a look at the intersection suggests Nanaimo’s downtown is closed for business.
“It’s sad to see all of these places closed down and especially on such a prominent corner,” said Schulz. “I think the city really has to make it a big priority to deal with the downtown. We can’t just have everything going to the malls north of town.”
Nanaimo’s mayor says he’s heard complaints about the boarded-up buildings driving business away but does expect the Acme building to be demolished in the months to come. As for the A & B sound building he says unless the city enacts legislation to force owners to redevelop boarded up, prominent properties like Penticton has done, they must wait and see what happens.
“Businesses aren’t going to make investments in certain areas until they see evidence that people are starting to come down to those areas,” said Mayor Bill McKay.
Too late it turns out for Catwalk Fashions, but one that Sydney Needham hopes gets people talking about the downtown they have and want to save going forward.