We were saddened to hear that a shop on South Liberty Street closed its doors last week, likely because of a drop-off in business that coincided with the closing of Business 40.
The antique shop, Repeat Offenders, opened in September 2017 and was doing well, turning a profit in its second year. But as easy accessibility declined, so did dollars. Eventually, the loss was too much to bear. We wish owner Patti Hamlin more success in her next endeavor.
“It is a sad story,” Jason Thiel, the president of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership, told the Journal’s Wesley Young last week. He said that the Business 40 closure “has been very hard” on many businesses downtown.
He’s right. Other businesses directly adjacent to the closed highway are suffering, despite the number of refurbished bridges that are coming back into use. Businesses farther from the highway are suffering, too.
Of course, the problem is temporary. Every business that can hang on will benefit from the refurbished Salem Parkway.
But it’s not unreasonable to conclude that more businesses will close before that happens.
It’s possible that the city could have done more to direct business toward Hamlin’s shop, via signs directing shoppers toward her store.
It’s too late to help Hamlin, but maybe the city can still help others.
But whatever the city does, some area residents are likely trying to avoid the detours, the dust, the increased traffic, until the project is completed, scheduled now for the summer of 2020.
They’re missing out. Downtown Winston-Salem remains vibrant, full of unique events and amenities for diners, shoppers and adventurers. It just takes a little more effort than usual to get there.
So, how do we get people there?
Over the weekend, local restaurateur Mary Haglund, the founder of Mary’s Gourmet Diner on Trade Street, posted an impassioned plea on Facebook for the downtown community that she loves. Here’s part of what she said:
“Well, every dollar, every single dollar is like a vote. So when you’re leaving your house with your credit cards, your cash, really make a conscious effort to think about where you’re going to spend those dollars. There’s a lot of things that you can buy here in this town that are going to feed a local family.
“If we don’t think about this, in 15 months or whenever, when the construction dust clears downtown, there’s not going to be anything left of interest or that represents who we are as a people.
“But if you want to see downtown thrive, with locally owned businesses and interesting things and art and music and food and wonderful things to buy, like the chocolate at Black Mountain Chocolate, like the things at Earthbound Arts made by Lucy and Gordon, I mean, there are just so many examples.
“And I’m so grateful and I love Winston-Salem and I want to see it be successful.
“And you know what else? Most of the people that are my friends already believe this, so if you wouldn’t mind sharing it, so that it can get out there to people who aren’t aware of this, that would be so great. Thanks.”
You heard Mary. Share it.