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Published: Wednesday, 2/22/2006

Sylvania: Recent closings concern for new business in downtown

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lisa Kernes enjoys her new business in downtown Sylvania but admits to some concern as she drives by closed shops along Main Street, where it doesn't seem there have been any vacancies for years.

In August, Ms. Kernes opened a small shop called First Impressions, which sells paper arts and crafts and where she conducts classes in making the items.

The business is in a small white building set back from the street. Pedestrian traffic is important to her.

It's on the northern edge of the commercial district next to Sylvania Historical Village .

One of the reasons she located there was a hope that shoppers would see her business as they strolled Main Street.

She's not the only one to voice concern, but for the time being, officials and others say it is a time of opportunity for the downtown.

Mayor Craig Stough said the closings are the result of coincidental retirements of long-term proprietors and that there have been inquiries about all of the buildings.

Patricia Nowak, head of the chamber of commerce, said her office has fielded calls from companies.

"We refer them to the appropriate places but probably won't know the outcome until we hear about a new grand opening," she said.

Judy Church, who owns Lily's on Main, at the corner of Maplewood, said she isn't worried about vacant storefronts.

She opened her shop in 2001 after having a store in what is now Westfield Franklin Park mall.

She has expanded in her Sylvania site twice and opened a second store, Lily's II, across Maplewood.

"I love the customers here in Sylvania," she said. "They're really nice people."

She said there is a distinct difference in dealing with them as opposed to those she had at the mall.

They are more discerning, quicker to the point, "and just more enjoyable," she said.

The coincidental retirement of three long-time store owners, she said, is only that and not a reason to think business is down in the area.

The stores that closing are The Country Mouse, 5627 North Main St., Accents N Antiques Interiors, 5665 North Main St., and the Apple Tree, 5648 North Main St.

Together they have been doing business on that block for 58 years.

Rumors have circulated about new retail stores, an art gallery, and a hair salon, but there have been no announcements about any deals being finalized.

Ms. Nowak said that although nothing specific has been announced, it is likely the empty stores will be busy with new enterprises in the near future.

The level of interest is there, she said, but it takes time before initial discussions begin and the opening of a new store can take place.



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