The downtown business community in Keremeos is reeling after the announcement by Sharon Finch of Keremeos Variety that the business was selling out and closing its doors.
The north side of Keremeos’ single block of retail storefront between Sixth and Seventh Streets will have a 50 per cent occupancy rate after Keremeos Variety shuts its doors.
Summer activity in the main business core is active, with many tourists stopping to access the bank, liquor store, or insurance office.
A downtown core containing complementary businesses would give visitors an incentive to linger for more than five or ten minutes, and with the right commercial mix, result in them dropping a few more dollars in the community.
Instead, we have a decreasingly viable downtown core, where residents are less and less inclined to think locally about a purchase before climbing into the car for a shopping trip to Penticton, or another larger centre.
Perhaps this is an area where the present council could step up to the plate and distinguish themselves. Village council can’t do much about the downtown situation if there is not a resolve amongst local business to develop a strategy. But they can let local business know they are listening, be ready to modify legislation that currently isn’t working, and research for any tax breaks and grant opportunities that might be available to help move main street forward.
Proividing a product mix that people will shop in the village for is a job for local entepreneurs to figure out and provide.
But it appears to us that the downtown core needs some leadership to move forward. Village council – who have had a relatively unproductive first year – are in an ideal position to take the intiative and provide it.