New Canaan was a commercial center for shoe making in the late 1700s through the 1800’s, and today has become a thriving and sought after destination for national retailers, multicultural restaurants and small business owners. What is lacking from the landscape are the “Mom and Pop” and small retail establishments that made New Canaan unique but are now long gone. Or are they?
What would a small town be without a bicycle shop? New Canaan Cyclery closed its business several years ago, and as a result, New Canaan residents must drive to Stamford, Darien or Wilton to purchase or service a bicycle. I can’t think of one retail location in New Canaan where a small bicycle store could afford to set up shop, can you? If you know of one, please let me know.
Is it fair to place blame on the owner/landlords for increasing rents or is it simply a matter of supply and demand? Are increasing rents and the presence of large retailers the price of progress? Well, if you were an owner/landlord, what would you do if two equally promising business owners approached you — one offering substantially more rental income than the other? Not such an easy choice, is it?
Owner/landlords and investors of commercial real estate purchase, own and maintain their properties for essentially one objective, to make a profit. Isn’t that what every business owner in New Canaan strives for: a profit at the end of the day in return for their hard work. We are all in this together, so we need to try to make it work for the business owners, owner/landlords and New Canaan's residents.
Perhaps we shouldn't look to the owner/landlords or the national retail tenants who are simply looking to do what we all seek to do — make their business grow and to make a profit. Maybe the answer is to start a coalition of business owners in the community, to band together with the owner/landlords, for the purpose of establishing a sincere and open discussion about and what direction we should take.
I have to believe that any owner/landlord would welcome new and smaller retail establishments, like , for example. Good for Tombrock Corporation for bringing a small retailer to its storefront on Cherry Street…a win-win for owner/landlord and the entire community of New Canaan!
In future issues, we will embark on the task of interviewing New Canaan merchants, business owners, and owner/landlords to hear what they have to say about the state of commercial real estate in New Canaan and what direction we should take in the future. Until then, don’t forget to support your local merchants!
Feel free to contact me with questions, comments and concerns.
Our next article will continue with a discussion about the future of commercial real estate in New Canaan.