The old Bell Telephone switch building on Preston just south of Somerset (opposite Plouffe Park and the Plant Pool) has seen a variety of tennants come and go. I hope Darrell Thomas makes a long term stay.
He first opened his button and cushion shop in the lower level of 240 Sparks St, back when that building had a commercial shopping floor on the lower level (the original third floor commercial level had largely closed out and been converted to offices several years before). I think the lower level mall is gone now, too.
Just another step in the retail decline of the downtown core … recall that Place de Ville has steadily reduced the size of its underground concourse over the years. L’Esplanade Laurier has also converted most of its second floor mall into office space although the food court is still there on the west end of the concourse. Place Bell is much less retail than before. And 90 Sparks has lost most of its retail too. And it’s not just food courts that are disappearing … anything other than the ubiquitous dry cleaners and coffee shops are becoming scarcer. And as I have posted in previous blogs, I do not think the LRT stations will spark a renaissance of a connected underground city.
But Thomas survived 240 Sparks, moving to a Bank Street storefront location a few years ago. Now he has acquired much bigger premises and exposure on Preston Street. Obviously he does not depend on walk-by business but on destination shoppers who are willing to seek him out.
Bank Street’s loss is Preston Street’s gain. And Preston could use more diversity of businesses, (with residential above the store) to promote more hours of vitality. Welcome to the neighborhood.