Little Blessings latest victim on Cambie

The Straight

By Matthew Burrows

Another Cambie Street business has decided to call it quits rather than fight the Canada Line “Goliath”.

Little Blessings Children’s Boutique, a small family-run store on Cambie Street at 14th Avenue, has opted out of its lease after two years in operation and will not return in the new year.

The store sells furniture, clothing, shoes, and other items for kids. Tara Fennings poured her heart and soul into the place, she told the Straight, but the reality of construction chaos means the end of the road for her store.

“Once you come to the realization you did the best you could and that it’s just not going to work, you can move forward, I guess,” she said. “The community will be upset, because they’ll be losing another store.”

Fennings’s mother, Deanna Taylor, has run the original Little Blessings store at the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall for four years.

“We’re just small-business people, and we really are up against the Goliath here,” Fennings said.

She said the Cambie store opened in October 2004. But the shop’s revenues took a hit when Canada Line plans changed from an underground tunnel to an open-trench style of cut-and-cover construction.

“In the first year, the Cambie store sales were higher than at the Tsawwassen store,” she said. “In the second year there was a 15-percent drop overall for the year at the Cambie store. The last nine months have seen a rapid drop-off.”

Fennings admits there have been efforts made by Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc. to offset business losses during construction. She noted she has even seen Canada Line cheerleaders in festive outfits offering free hot chocolate to shoppers and store owners. Despite the fact that they may “look good”, Fennings said their efforts are not going to make a difference in the long term.

“It doesn’t help bring more people into the area,” she said. “But it helps the 10 people who do show up.”

Exactly one year ago, Abby Palmer called it a day at the Gardening Circle plant store she ran at Cambie Street and West 17th Avenue. She told the Straight on December 1, 2005, “The only reason I’m moving is because of the RAV line.”

Canada Line Rapid Transit Inc. communications director Alan Dever told the Straight his company “doesn’t like to hear” this kind of news.

“We are doing our best to ensure that people out there know the businesses are open, and we are encouraging people to shop the line,” he said. “We will continue to do that, and we will continue to do what we can to minimize the construction effects we know are there.”

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