By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Nov. 16, 2013
There would be more visitors walking into downtown stores if there was a wider selection of retailers and dining, events, and more convenient shopping times, says a latest district survey.
White Forest Consulting conducted a survey this summer, polling 700 people on their reasons to visit downtown Squamish.
The research, the consultants hope, will help guide prospective business investors and retail merchants to fine tune their products to downtown Squamish.
Mo Zhang of White Forest Consulting said their research found out that residents are looking for a wider selection of retailers, more convenient shopping, and more choices of dining in downtown Squamish.
Regional residents interviewed by the survey said they don’t have time to visit downtown, and that their shopping and dining needs are met elsewhere in Squamish.
Regional residents, the survey founds, were also hindered by ‘lack of knowledge’ about the town and a compelling reason to visit its downtown.
Local residents, Zhang said, leave the town for a wider variety of sports goods, specific recreational goods, furniture, appliances, etc.
“Selection, pricing, and quality offered by shops elsewhere is the reason why majority of them spend their money outside,” Zhang said.
He said regional residents and visitors are looking for an ‘anchor event’ to give them a reason to visit downtown.
Half of those interviewed said Squamish Farmer’s Market was one reason why they came to visit downtown Squamish.
The Ledge Café on Cleveland Ave, started by the Rock Church, is taking the initiative to bring more local and regional visitors to town.
In the last one year, the café has hosted several events, from music concerts to art exhibitions.
From Nov. 9, the café is also offering internet access and a workstation space to anyone who needs it.
“We need more events, façade improvements, and tax incentives in downtown,” he said.
“If more people visit and speak highly of downtown, then more visitors will come downtown,” said Glenn Davies, the pastor for the church.
A night market, a movie in the park, Squamish Idol, and Summer Jam were organized to showcase downtown Squamish by the district.
Christine Campbell, the executive director of Squamish BIA, said her sense is that events in downtown do help local merchants.
“The more people that come to downtown, the more it helps business,” she said.