A refreshing trend is emerging in downtown Brockville as new businesses open

There seems to be a new trend emerging in downtown Brockville, with once-vacant storefronts coming back to life, with the pandemic possibly playing a role.

It’s something Sarah Fisher never thought she’d do — open a business in downtown Brockville.

“I’m nervous, very nervous, but also excited!” Fisher said as she unpacked boxes at her new downtown store at 11 King Street West.

After being unable to find items to fill her nursery, Luella Charlotte Baby Boutique was born, named after her daughter who arrived just four and a half months ago.

“I was on maternity leave from my nursing position and thought about opening an online baby store and decided why not just go for it and here we are,” smiled Fisher.

“We’ll be offering a lot of Boho and Scandinavian-style baby items, mostly sourced locally, primarily in North America,” added Fisher.

He realized that foot traffic had increased in the downtown core, which was perfect for a new opportunity.

“There are festivals almost every weekend throughout the summer, the farmers market happens right at the end of that block and it’s a full street affair,” Fisher said. “Tall Ships especially drew a lot of people, and Ribfest is one of my favorites.”

Luella Charlotte Baby Boutique will open on King Street West in downtown Brockville on October 1st. It is one of many new businesses opening in the area. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

It’s something other new businesses have noticed, according to Downtown Brockville BIA Executive Director Jasmine Jasani.

“In 2020 we had 29 vacancies, 29 vacancies here, and just this year we had 10 grand openings, with five more to come,” he said. “I’ve noticed that people come into life, they’ve started new businesses and they’re all different.”

Jasani noted a few reasons why she believes the transformation is taking place.

“With the pandemic, there has been a lot of emphasis on supporting local people and staying at home more by visiting your nearby towns,” he said.

“Another reason, I think it gives people the opportunity to pursue their passions, to start new things and to believe that they can do that,” Jasani added.

Three grand openings are planned for this weekend, including HeiNoon Sensual Boutique, a new adult entertainment store on Friday, and Penny’s Jewelery and Sassy Yarns on Saturday.

“From arts, crafts, dance, food, specialty items, candles, everything you’ll find on this street and I think that’s what’s so beautiful about it, it’s for everyone to come and get a little bit of something,” Jasani said. .

The Downtown Brockville BIA says there have been 10 grand openings for businesses so far this year, with five more to come. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

But while some smaller stores have gotten new life, the 13,000-square-foot former Woolworth’s building on King Street, owned by the city, remains empty.

Closed since 2004, residents call it an eyesore.

“Well, I did too, and in this current council term we’ve chosen this as a priority project to tackle,” said newly-acclaimed Mayor Matt Wren.

“I’m sure the public thinks nothing is happening, and works like this, it’s like a duck to water, you don’t see much above the surface, but the feet really fall down and that was happening here,” Wren famous.

He praised Mayor Mike Kalyva for the work he has done on the project, including an exclusive negotiation period in January with a selected developer.

“Mayor Kalyvas said in March that he hoped in a few months there would be an announcement, we’re a little more than that, but we’re certainly very, very close to announcing the next life of this property and I hope it will happen. very soon,” he said.

Wren noted that the property is beyond repair and will have to be demolished, but hinted that new commercial development is coming on the ground floor with a mixed-use building above, which could include residential and commercial space.

“We chose this developer because they shared that vision, and I’m sure that’s what we’re going to see,” Wren said.

Brockville’s newly minted mayor Matt Wren is hinting that a new commercial development may be coming to the former Woolworth’s building on King Street. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

In response to the new grand opening in 2022 downtown, Wren was excited about the future.

“We felt before the pandemic that we were really turning the corner downtown and things were going really well,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re strong, you bounce back quicker. I think downtown was pretty strong before and we’re seeing that.”

“I think our businesses here are resilient and we want to continue to support them,” Jasani added. “It doesn’t mean they’ve had a great time (through the pandemic), it just means they’ve taken it well and are really doing their best and moving forward.”

For Fisher, she is excited to finally open on Oct. 1 and welcome customers to her new store.

“I hope this means more shoppers will come downtown and more often,” he said. “More locals, but also people from out of town. More stores means more doors open, more shoppers.”

“It’s personal, it’s unique, you’re usually one of the few shoppers in the shop so it’s not rushed and people like to talk, which is nice,” she smiled.

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