Salt Spring May Changes


Change, change, change….

Some Salt Spring business closings, and the island is sorry to see this:

Moby’s, Bruce’s Kitchen, Marketplace, Fernwood’s Raven Street Cafe…they have joined the disappearance of the Fulford Pub and the Vesuvius Pub.

Along with these foodie pleasures erasing away, we’ve also seen the demise of Mark’s Wear, a mini-department store option. A branch office of a major real estate franchise has closed, and another branch office of a competing franchise has moved from a large storefront to a much smaller one.

We also lost an art gallery location (Starfish Gallery in Grace Point Square). Two bookstores closed (Watermark & Volume 2). A small grocery/sundries outlet in Upper Ganges Village has also closed.

Changes no doubt created by the end result of the economic downturn, which caused a pause in tourism that was severe. In a secondary home/discretionary region, tourism does drive all business.

And yet, we have new businesses that have opened recently: Thrive eco-clothing, Dragonfly art supplies, Treasures of the Heart metaphysical store, a Dollar Store, Fevertree decor & clothing store, another Ganges specialty clothing and gallery storefront, plus Salt Spring Mercantile in Fulford Village (former Patterson’s Store location). Plus, the new library has created a destination in mid-McPhillips Avenue. Some businesses have expanded: Persnickety children’s store, in Grace Point, and Frankly Scarlet gifts/jewelery also expanded to a new location in Grace Point Square.

So, what to say about all this shift & change?

I do think that tourism drives the economy of secondary home/resort-based regions. If tourism was down by 40% in 2009, 2010, 2011, then this explains the faltering in real estate & in accomodations (hotels, motels, resorts, B&Bs), plus restaurants. Also car, scooter, & kayak rentals.

Real estate is usually the igniter of attendant businesses: architects, contractors, back hoe & excavator businesses, lawyers for conveyings of titles, building inspectors, well drillers, water testers, cleaners, landscapers, gardeners, painters, roofers, septic installers, hardware store items, flooring installers, lighting experts, dock builders, security systems, etc.

If fewer people visit, then there are fewer pieces of art being sold in galleries, fewer studios busy on tours, fewer people attending the famed Saturday Market in the Park, buying the works of talented artisans, or enjoying the local organic produce created on Island farms, fewer people eating out for lunch, dinner, coffee stops. Fewer people traveling on ferries or floatplanes…prices rise to meet the shortfall demands in transportation choices.

Yes, the economic downturns that began in 2007, and appeared globally in 2008, certainly created some of this rash of closings. The impact of the Internet cannot be ignored, either. No business format has been untouched. It seems, too, that the retail segment is the one currently dramatically shifting, post-Internet. Recently, I heard a statistic that 38% of retail sales were now online. Hmmm….

A seasonal market in a secondary home/discretionary region…a post-Internet world…a demographic shift (Boomers retiring)…a slow recovery, economically…a lot boiling around in that big pot! Should we call it societal change?

I think so! And your thoughts are? Always welcome!