The move of a gift store and flower shop off Main Street may leave two large buildings vacant on the town’s main commercial block during the summer season.
The Alaska Side has moved out of a Second and Main building that’s been the home of the business almost 20 years. Greg Podsiki, whose family purchased the business two years ago, said rent at the building was the main reason for leaving.
The store is moving to a location along Willard Street, about a block away.
"It’s a smart business move. We’ve got lower rent and a nicer building," Podsiki said.
Building owner Marilyn Josephson this week said her rent at $1.25 per square foot was cheaper than some other ones on Main Street.
"It’s the best location in town for retail. You’re right there. As long as you have stuff people want to buy, they’ll find you," Josephson said.
Josephson said she’s looking for a new renter. Josephson operated the business as Chilkoot Gardens and said it made a profit even after the departure of large cruise ship traffic in 2000.
"You have to have the right mix of merchandise, some capital up front and you have to staff it yourself," she said. She said she’s willing to work with a potential renter. Her arrangement with Alaska Side was a lease-to-own.
"I want to get somebody in there and I want them to be successful, but I don’t have to sell it. If I can’t rent it, I’ll drain the pipes and let it sit for a while." She said she has no plans to board the windows.
Chamber of Commerce president Ned Rozbicki is a member of a group pushing revitalization of the Main Street core.
"Rents have yet to adjust to the income that can be had at a Main Street location. It would be great to have businesses on Main Street, but it seems we’re in a readjustment period," Rozbicki said.
The key, he said, was bringing more business to town. "It’s not a comment on the nature of the business but on the amount of money being spent in town and the money in the local economy."