With just a few weeks to go before the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association’s AGM, two of downtown’s newer business owners are encouraging anyone thinking of opening a business to attend the meeting and find out what all the buzz is about.
Since opening Finders Keep Hers Boutique & Fine Consignment in April 2013, Alicia MacPherson has grown her clientele considerably. She largely attributes that growth to three things: location, location and location.
“We chose to locate downtown for a number of reasons,” she explains. “But the best part is that it’s always so busy and there’s always a cheerful type of energy here. I can’t imagine being anywhere else; we just love it!”
Ben-Zion Eni, owner of The Hub Café on Duncan Avenue, echoes MacPherson’s sentiments.
“The best part for me is the close feeling of community,” says Eni, whose small eatery is approaching its first anniversary. “There’s a real sense of fellowship and camaraderie downtown. The support we get from other businesses is great, and it’s just cool being part of this historic area.”
When Eni decided to open a restaurant, he says he knew it had to be downtown.
“I’ve always loved shopping downtown and, whenever I would, I’d notice there are always people around — no matter the weather or time of year. We get a ton of foot traffic, and that’s the real draw.”
It’s not just traffic that’s drawing businesses toward the city centre, however. With average downtown lease and triple net rates far lower than many other Comox Valley locales, opening a business downtown makes a lot of financial sense.
“Obviously being surrounded by great restaurants and a variety of other businesses is an attraction,” says DCBIA vice-president Jenny Deters. “But what many of our merchants like are all the events that go on down here, such as Elevate the Arts, Local Colours and Market Days. And with all the walk-in traffic, money that might otherwise be spent on marketing can be directed elsewhere.”
Deters notes that with some longstanding businesses closing due to retirements, there are a few retail spaces available — something she’s eager to speak about as chair of the DCBIA’s Business Recruitment and Retention Committee.
“It’s a great time to be downtown; you can feel that renewed sense of energy. With people like Ben and Alicia, the new Gladstone Brewery and a clothing store opening up at Fifth and England, the future looks even brighter downtown!”
The AGM is at 6 p.m. May 20 at the Courtenay Museum. For more information and a calendar of downtown events, visit www.downtowncourtenay.com. To learn more about retail space opportunities, contact Deters at firstname.lastname@example.org.