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January 04, 2013


it is hard to say how they will do, but next thing you know a starbucks opens downtown. Could happen, but probably not until the condo towers open up and residents and businesses move in

Interesting, because I tried to rent that spot before I got my present, much better, spot, and the owner ignorantly said that he wanted to rent it out as a vintage women's clothing store. Hope he won't be 0 for 2.

And wasn't it another clothing store before that and an 'antique' store before that? Part of the ebb and flow, I guess. :-)

Yea I remember the antique store that used to be there, it was a shame it closed, they had import British stuff in there, but why would a landlord be picky for?

usually a landlord would be more than happen considering the economic environment to allow anyone to open up a shop when there is a vacancy

(Scott - "ebb and flow"... of hope and fresh money into the downtown, heartache and financial ruin out of it? Not sure this is a good time for smaller investors entering the downtown, especially if it includes making significant leasehold improvements before they get started. Some, maybe a lot of the movement of new starts we will be seeing in the downtown will be about getting in before the condos are up and occupied, but with the condos and the transit hub I'm guessing it's a matter of time before Starbucks enters the market -- which will be considered contraband goods for any City Hall staff smuggling in their morning latte.)

I will watch for sapphire's opening, and will check it out!

Hopefully they checked with city hall about
any road construction downtown before they
signed on the dotted line.

For new cafes I have to agree there will be challenges given the number of well-established joe joints in the core, but on the whole I think this is a good time to establish roots downtown with the anticipated residential growth and larger stores/services that will bring.

Scott, yes, it will come down to their business model, their discipline and how deep their pockets are while they get established... the challenge being surviving the gap... and doing that well enough that it doesn't cripple you with debt especially vis a vis your more established competitors when things do pick up. Our caveat here being there isn't an exodus, err, significant ebb and flow from the downtown in the meantime... and it seems from Ray and others that that is what is underway.

Depending on the progress of the condo projects and the economy, that could be one nasty gap.

Ah, so once we've turned a corner on it all, presuming that happens, we'll start all over again with disruption associated with building the new library?!

Buyer beware, indeed.

In this day and age when one opens a business there is no such thing as "surviving the gap". A business has to take hold fast and hard (within several months of opening) to survive at all and once it has done that it must work to keep that "hold" with all its might and steadily continue to grow its market share. Otherwise it is game over when the line of credit or the cash runs out. Then we see what we have seen on Carden Street - which is a combination of the new realities of doing business exacerbated by the years of messy construction. Anyone opening a business in the downtown core had best have done EXTENSIVE market research first which, if they have decided to go ahead with it, would have indicated a very high probability that they have something going on that will take foothold IMMEDIATELY. Opening one's doors without doing this first is in the very least terribly misguided. If Sapphire is depending on lower rents, walk by traffic and lady luck for their success they will have another thing coming. The critical mass that it takes to keep a business going these days - especially in downtown Guelph - is astounding.

So, in my opinion, this is a good time to establish roots in the core only if you have something that will take hold now, not in two or however many years when the residential component has filled in.

I wonder if Sapphire did extensive market research?

If MacDonnel or Wyndham streets get road improvements then the downtown would be screwed. Look what happened to Carden, if a main road downtown gets some sort of road improving treatment which closes one section of it for a bit then the businesses in that section are going to be screwed.

It is pretty empty beyond Double Dragon, good Chinese food, but not sure if they chose the best spot.

Brigid, my assumption is that background work has happened, but you make a very good point that the market and perhaps especially the downtown market may require something a lot deeper in terms of analysis than what some are doing --? But to my thinking the best made plans go out the window if the market has lost a critical mass of open shops - it seems now that a merchant should hope for dear life that no one at City Hall is cooking up a plan to "revitalize" the downtown (for the next guy, or the perhaps the guy after the next guy...)

Ah, Bridget, sorry about getting your name wrong.

One downtown merchant told me last week he's been told by city hall that Wyndham is scheduled for a major overhaul in the not-too-distant future to replace all that ancient infrastructure. What impact will that have?

Oh, no problem... replacing "ancient infrastructure" is very straight-forward and not prone to delays. Ya, right. I respect that the work may have to happen for good reasons but talk about one-two punches to that market. Expert project management will be especially valuable for this one.

Are the upgrades being done to prepare for the new library? That project will be another mess!

If a merchant's lease is coming up for renewal, perhaps it's time to quickly cash out and move... to another city? Probably not, given the commitment I'm guessing most merchants have to the city and the downtown -- unless this forces their hand in a way that there is simply no getting around avoiding another downturn in traffic.

No doubt images of what Carden Street looked like, delay after delay, are emblazoned in their minds. A few sleepless nights ahead, I'm sure.

The problem is they have to weigh the fact they're stuck it out to this point with the possibility that staying through more of it is now approaching madness vis a vis operating in other markets.

(You've pretty much said it, Louis!)

A new coffee shop downtown is not going to draw any new people downtown. The Sapphire is going to have to draw from the exisiting clientele.

It is all predicated on 10,000 more people moving downtown, ang only 2 projects have even started. Throw in a housing bust and both of those could be in trouble. Already the cheapest units across from the Farmer's Market have climbed from the $149,900 that the Mayor crowed about to $164,900, and that gets you a tiny "studio." And the top price on MacDonnell is over a million! If nobody buys then we are so screwed.

Little empty store fronts are tempting to some who thing self-employment and entrepreneurial lifestyle are tempting paths to explore. BUT! Many if not most count on making money in the first quarter or half year. They go in dramatically under-financed and so they struggle and inevitably fail. My read on it all is a new store front business had better be prepared to survive 2 years without pulling any "excess revenue" from the till.

Good point Ray!
At 2 people per unit that amounts to 5000 units that need to be built DOWNTOWN! And where exactly is the downtown going to find the land for all of these units? With the phobia over many storied towers, and the Woods property scaled back to "medium-low" density the odds are against reaching the target for downtown. On a city-wide scale the odds are also against the 25,000 or so units that are needed to support the "Places to Grow" stupidity. On the brighter side of this dismal picture - McGuinty is (almost) gone thus limiting his ability to screw Ontario wih his dumb ideas. The new leader of the Liberals will face an impossible uphill battle to salvage anything from the McGuinty Madness.
Furthermore - How is Guelph going to accomodate these new residents? With the eco-nut fascination with groundwater only, and the refusal to consider outside sources (like a pipeline) GUELPH HAD BETTER GET READY TOLIKEW THE TASTE OF RECYCLED URINE! And where exactly are all the jobs that these people are going to be employed at? Let me see - I know - 30,000 jobs at City Hall. The wheels are quickly falling off the Mayor's vision!!

I think that some of these businesses would have failed anyways, but some were "ebbed and flowed" into bankruptcy by stupid city policy. The poster child being, of course, Carden St. Cafe.

Or maybe The Family Thrift Store. Hmmm. Didn't even think of that one.

Replacing ancient infrastructure downtown...
there is some at the city hall that needs to
be replaced.Namely the mayor and council/
every single senior manager/city staff.

Then and only then will this nonsense stop
and people will come out of this haze they
been in since 2006.

Good column, Scott.


The whole issue raises a lot of questions for me, and the questions suggest, push come to shove, that City Hall is still on its own program.

Mercy for existing businesses? Here comes that well-known steamroller called Vision. Get out of the way!

Stop me here if I'm wrong. The city is going to dig up Wyndham St. to replace aging infrastructure but we just finished repaving and cement work last summer.........I thought you were supposed to dig the hole first but then I'm just a silly taxpayer, what do I know.

Let's just hope the café will have an automatic door....otherwise they could lose $6000.00......

This is what I think of market "ebb and flow", not hubris-driven publicly-funded destabilization of the market downtown:


And this:


New products. Formats. Distribution. Ebb and flow.

Not municipal pet-project over-runs.

Marty Williams sent out a newsletter trumpeting the downtown, just as he should, but he also accused the Mercury of "trying" to create a story about the effects of lack-of-parking on downtown sales. Somehow, I think that a 30% vacancy rate on the block closest to City Hall should set off some alarms.

(Hey, that newsletter could be a story! Which is kinda ironic.)

I am the owner of Sapphire and we've brought something great to Guelph. If you haven't been in then come by and see what we do differently. We're not JUST a cafe, we're so much more then that. We are Guelph's premiere lounge without any attitude serving you very well and at a great price in a fabulous environment, so there! ;)

Will check it out!

If you may need a greater quantity of money, another choice you'll be able to take is to make use of for the secured loan james taylor concerts there two aspects from the loanrefinance and bankruptcy being considered first for taking the money.

Hey Idiot, What did you expect? The sapphire is a cool place, but not if you are part of that Cheap Guelph Mentality. This is the worst City in Canada to rely on tips. Guelph people are CHEEP, CHEEP, CHEEP!

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Joanne Shuttleworth is the newsroom lead in municipal affairs coverage for the Guelph Mercury. She is a former Guelph YWCA Woman of Distinction honouree and a past winner of an Ontario Newspapers Award for her work as an editor. You can reach her at jshuttleworth@guelphmercury.com

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