Main Street

Considerable anxiety has been expressed of late about the commercial future of Shawville in the past two issues of The Equity. Folks are worried about businesses disappearing, particularly in what is risibly referred to as downtown (i.e., along Main Street). Two stores — a general store and an office supplies store — are up for sale because their owners would like to retire, and the local Curves franchise has announced it’s closing its doors at the end of the month. Much worry, then, about whether this town is losing its shops.

A bit of perspective. The two stores simply need to find buyers, which in itself may be a bit of a challenge in a town where businesses — even franchises — are almost always family-run. For example, the local Home Hardware store, though a franchise, has been a family business for about 150 years.

As for the Curves franchise — well, I covered it when it opened, and I was amazed that a town this small could support one, given the research I’d done into the company. That it lasted three years is the real surprise, not that it’s closing. The population here is so small that they couldn’t afford any turnover: when an inevitable percentage gave up after a few months, there wasn’t anyone else left to take their places, as there would be in a larger centre.

Counter-examples, as correctly pointed out by The Equity last week: Café 349 has expanded; WePC just renovated. Predictions of Shawville’s imminent doom are premature: businesses close and people retire all the time.

I guess people are worried that when something closes, nothing will come along to replace it. That’s unlikely.

One twist is when you rely not just on a single business, but on a single person. Our doctor might — I say might — be leaving for another town; our hairstylist is retiring. Fortunately, Shawville has other doctors and other hair salons. Life goes on, even if habits must change from time to time.

And the shopping is actually surprisingly good here, for a town this size.