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Closures hit business in downtown Squamish

But new and expanding businesses have BIA president feeling confident



Spring may be the season of renewal, but for some Squamish businesses this spring marks the end of the line.

Recently closed businesses in Squamish include the patio furniture store, along with The Kids Place consignment store and Lucky Loonies, all on Cleveland Avenue.

Scott McQuade, the president of the Downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA), pointed out that while a few places have closed the downtown business community in Squamish is actually experiencing growth.

"It's changing as any place changes," said McQuade of recent shifts in the landscape of Squamish's downtown area.

A high-end women's clothing store has opened in the space formerly occupied by Yianni's Taverna, and space taken by The Kids Place will be swallowed up by an expansion of Chef Big D's next door.

McQuade described the new Whistle Stop clothing store as an anchor for downtown. The store's owner was pushed out of Squamish Station Mall to accommodate Valhalla Pure's expansion.

"The storefront looks great and I'd like to see more businesses like that downtown," McQuade said of the transformation.

Right next door to the Whistle Stop is the Funky Monkey clothing store, which is currently advertised on Craigslist as being available for purchase. Across the street Sequence is holding a moving sale with the store set to move its shoes, clothing and other merchandise up the street next to Royal Bank.

McQuade admits the area has the appearance of high turnover.

"(But) it's not a downtown Squamish thing, it's a business viability thing," he said. "If your business is viable it will do well in downtown Squamish. If your business isn't viable it won't do well in downtown Squamish, as it wouldn't do well anywhere. Rents are a little bit lower, so I think that people who don't have viable businesses think that they can make a go of it because the rent is low."

McQuade's confidence in the area is demonstrated through his own business, the Squamish Hotel. A new bar opens next month and he rented street-level space to entrepreneurs who also plan to open in June.

"We've got some developments moving down here, and the council is committed to a vibrant waterfront," said McQuade. Council supports those who want to develop in Squamish's main business area, he added.

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