The recent closure of three stores in the shopping complex located at 312 5th Ave West (next to Cochrane Safeway) could mean that some small businesses are feeling the economic blues.
Revolution Apparel closed in the fall, Cabo Tan (January) and the UPS Store in February.
The notice on the UPS Store door indicates that the tenant had defaulted on the rent periods for December 2016 and January 2017 and that $6,914.44 was owing.
Landlord Randy Mabbott said the UPS Store is currently seeking a new operator to take over the franchise location and that the other two business owners “walked away.” He did not go into further detail.
Mabbot emphasized that rent in his building is fair and comparable to other commercial spaces.
He added that he is in discussion with potential tenants and anticipates to have all the available bays in the complex filled soon.
Pet Planet and Ewyn Studios both have put up signage indicating they will be occupying spaces in the complex.
According to Kathy Campbell, UPS Store area franchisee for Alberta/Yukon/NWT, the stores are owned and operated individually and are not corporate-owned.
She confirmed that several franchise operators are interested in the Cochrane location and a new operator will likely take the reins in the coming weeks.
Campbell said mail is being sorted daily and that clients should be able to access their mail and the new owners will honour contracts with the former franchise. Concerns can be directed to the UPS Store Canada corporate office at 905-338-9754.
One UPS Cochrane client, who requested anonymity, said he had been a client at that location since November 2015 and he renewed his annual mailbox rental in December, paying for another full year of service (for which he has not yet been reimbursed).
He recalls speaking with the former UPS Store owner in December, who asked him if he knew where he could borrow money. Soon after that conversation, the UPS client noticed the business owner started selling used computers and accessories.
While he said he is “not surprised” that things didn’t work out for the UPS owner, he said he is disappointed with the lack of direction from UPS and is anxious to receive his mail.
Jennifer Winter of Winter Photographics, has operated her business in Cochrane for 27 years, five of in her current location at 18-312 5th Ave. West.
She said that her current landlord is “the best we’ve ever had” and that the parking is “far superior” to her previous location.
“The small business climate is definitely a bit chiller than it has been in previous years,” said Winter. “We, as owners, are emotionally as well as financially, invested in our businesses … Niche markets are a great idea, until it comes to putting groceries on the table and paying the rent or mortgage.”
Winter said that she is hopeful the “shop local” campiagn in Cochrane will continue and more people will see the benefits from shopping in town.
Robert Kalinovich, economic development officer for the town, said that while he cannot speculate on the circumstances of any specific businesses, the town is aware that some small businesses face additional challenges in a shaky economy.
“Of course, as our town grows and more businesses are started here, this means that existing local businesses must do everything they can to ensure their service, pricing, selection and location are all as good as they can be in order to remain competitive.”
Kalinovich added that the town’s economic team is looking forward to the unveiling of the Cochrane Dollars initiative – to encourage shopping local and keeping money in Cochrane.