Kerrisdale businesses grapple with change and closures

Changing demographics, increased rent and pressure from big box stores are all forcing independent businesses to adapt.

“Kerrisdale has changed.” It’s a sentiment expressed by several independent businesses as they’ve watched other long-term independent stores close their doors in the Kerrisdale Village on 41st Avenue between Larch and Maple streets.

The causes are harder to put down — changing demographics, high rent, and competition from chain stores all appear to be factors.

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Hobbs gift store closed at the end of last year due to what owner Thomas Hobbs told the Courier was changing demographics and increasing rent. Puddifoot, which has had a store in Kerrisdale for 60 years, will close its doors at the end of December. The Puddifoot brothers will be focusing on their wholesale business instead.

Lorraine Smith has owned and operated Collins Jewellers on 41 Avenue near West Boulevard since 1975. She said she has been sad to see many family-run businesses leave.

“They really care a little bit more, because it is their family business, other than people who walk into their job at nine and leave at five. That's why I really like to keep the family businesses around. But they’re going really fast,” she said.

Chain stores are also responsible for the change, according to some business owners.

Jack McCullough, who has run furniture store Form & Function with his wife Susan for more than 20 years, said "greedy" property owners have caused the rise of chain stores, which can afford the high rent.

“They bought their buildings for nickels and now they want many dollars. They play into the hands of the chains.”

Terri Clark, coordinator for the Kerrisdale Business Association, agreed that some businesses have been supplanted by big chain stores.

“At one time there were only a few places where you could get a certain kind of china, and it was at Hobbs in Kerrisdale, which is closed, or it was at Puddifoot. Those kinds of china can be bought anywhere now at the big shops, like Pottery Bard or Crate & Barrel.”

Clark however, doesn’t believe landlords are to blame for the high rent. She blames high property taxes.

Martin Smith, who runs The Perfect Gift with his wife Barbara, said businesses need to change.

“You’ve got to adapt a little bit as well, there’s a lot more Asian clientele, and I think a lot of the businesses aren’t adapting.”

Multiple causes are at play, but many like Lorraine Smith believe the neighbourhood is going through change and will adapt.

“It could be rents, and it could be the foot [traffic]. It’s hard to say exactly. It’s changing and it is changing fast.”

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