Very disappointing news that Mark’s Wear has closed, in Ganges Village.
Although a type of franchise, it was owned & operated locally.
All franchises (Re/Max & Sotheby’s are on-island franchises, as is 1% Vancouver Island Realty, in the real estate world) are usually owned & operated locally. The banks (CIBC & BMO) are a type of franchise, as are the gas stations, the grocery stores, etc. In some people having complained, last year, when the landlord built out the space & Mark’s moved into it, on this issue of a “franchise” coming to the Island, they may have overlooked that it was local people and a local enterprise. Locally owned and operated has a meaning, under the larger umbrella of a company franchise name.
Royal Lepage‘s local office (another real estate franchise, locally owned & operated) closed its branch office in March. A result of the past four years of suppressed economic conditions globally, as well as locally. Now we have Mark’s Wear closing. This means the staff have lost their jobs, quite apart from the losses of the owners. It also means that the landlord, who built out the third phase of a three phase building plan, a good 12 or so years after the initial phases, will be out of pocket. To recoup, he may turn the large space into 3 storefronts…we will have to wait to see. Then, if he does do this, he will have to attract businesses/tenants willing to take the risk of entrepreneurship.
So…the Salt Spring Roasting Company, with its 40 employees, has left the Island…unable to find a commercial/industrial zoned parcel to expand its enterprise. Fields Store has closed. Now, another effort to create a viable business, Mark’s Wear, has closed. Very worrying.
The Chamber of Commerce has tried to renew itself in order to address business interests on Salt Spring…to support business & to encourage local support. Has the concerted & advocacy based work over the past two years had any effect?
There are new businesses on Island, this year: Dragonfly (art supplies), Thrive (local ecologically green clothing store), Pure (new pharmacy), Fever Tree (specialty clothing & design items), Salt Spring Mercantile (in Fulford). Two bookstores closed, one remains, & a new Library building is almost completed. A Grace Point art gallery (Starfish Gallery) closed its doors. However, Treasures of the Heart, a metaphysical store that has replaced the loss of Windflower Moon, has opened. What about restaurants/cafes? Galleries? Home studios? Able to wait out the economic slowdown?
So…one up/one down? Hmmm….
A strong business core is the engine of a healthy community. In a non-municipal area, without funding resources, and a faltering tourism sector, will it be possible to sustain a viable commercial core on any Gulf Island?
And your thoughts are? Always welcome!