Street closed sign turned away customers: Steveston merchant

A section of Moncton Street was closed over the long weekend, and one merchant thinks the glaring sign announcing the closure might have driven customers away.

Laura Stapleton, owner of Fab Pad on Moncton Street, said she would have preferred some promotion – like a car-free day - when Moncton Street was closed over the B.C. Day long weekend. Instead, there was a big sign saying “Moncton Street closed” and she suspects people just turned around and left.

“It was very off-putting to some,” Stapleton said.

Business was slower with fewer people stopping by her store, she explained.

Stapleton doesn’t think Moncton Street is necessarily a problem during COVID-19 because it doesn’t have as many businesses and foot traffic as Bayview Street, and therefore doesn’t warrant any traffic reductions.

Richmond city council decided just the week before to close Moncton and Bayview streets from No. 1 Road to Third Avenue over the long weekend to give more space for physical distancing. The stretches will remain as one-way streets until the Labour Day weekend.

A new sign has been posted to tell drivers about the one-way streets.

“(The new sign) is better, but it’s not the most inviting (image) for Steveston Village,” Stapleton said.

According to city spokesperson Clay Adams, feedback seems to suggest it was quieter than usual in Steveston over the weekend, but the city doesn’t have any statistics on why.

“It is not clear why pedestrian and visitor traffic may appear lower than usual, although concerns about mass gatherings and social distancing due to COVID-19 may have played a factor,” Adams explained.

He added the city will continue to monitor the area and engage with merchants.

The cost to close the streets on the long weekend and keep the two streets as one-way is estimated to come to $62,000.

Many businesses have been hit hard because of the pandemic, but Stapleton said they have been able to ride the storm, although at some point it was touch and go. Fab Pad, which sells refurbished vintage home furnishings, has increased its online sales, diversified its products and implemented curbside pickup to help boost business, Stapleton explained.

Other businesses in Steveston, however, have closed, for example, the Porthole, a wine bar on No. 1 Road off Moncton, recently announced it was shutting its doors permanently.

© Richmond News