"We just aren't making any money," owner Jon Glab said. "It's difficult and disappointing. We've had a good time in Ferndale. We just can't do it anymore."
"We lost a lot of customers due to the recession that didn't come back."
Glab said they stuck it out in the hopes that it might turn around, but it hasn't.
"It's been rough," he said. "I haven't paid myself in a very long time."Less than three weeks ago, the DDA trumpted to city council that 40 new businesses came to Ferndale in 2010, helping make-up for 14 that left in the same year and 26 vacancies from the year before (14 + 26 = 40).
Contrary to their boasting about new businesses coming to Ferndale, the DDA's communications and marketing directory Chris Hughes' struck a more sedate tone about Strawberry's closing:
"We're surprised as well as disappointed to see Strawberry Moon close," said Chris Hughes, communications director of the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority. "It's always sad to have a business you know and love (close)."
Hughes said she doesn't think the recent closures are a trend, especially because a few of the spaces have already been leased or sold.
"Club 9 has been sold and is expected to reopen as another club. Rockin Soul is closed, but the space has been leased. We've learned to stop hitting the panic button."Not hitting the panic button is a luxury the DDA has that downtown businesses do not enjoy. The DDA is tax-payer supported and has a $500,000+ budget that survives whether businesses do or not--as long as there are landlords owning the buildings.
Strawberry's owners hit the panic button--as did the owners of Amoure, Rockin' Soul, Nami, New to You Music, Angel's Cafe, The Chaldean Club, Josephine's and others.
"The bottom line is that businesses come and go, let's not panic," (Hughes) said.Easy for her to say. As successful as the DDA may be at recruiting businesses to downtown Ferndale, they seem far less successful at retaining them. Of course, the DDA isn't necessarily responsible for businesses' success, but it is supposed to be responsible for a healthy business climate--for both bars and retailers.
The DDA has used the number of 210 as the number of core downtown businesses. 40 new businesses represents a turnover of nearly 20% (40/210*100=19.0476%). If the DDA were a business with 20% turnover in employees, they'd be performing horribly. But a 20% turnover in office supplies (paper clips, staples, white-out) is OK.
So the DDA's lack of reaction to downtown's turnover may be a good measure of how they regard downtown businesses--easily replaceable. Better to assign them numbers like farmers do steer and sheep for slaughter so they don't get too attached to them.
Perhaps its simply an occupational hazard (".. businesses come and go.."). I'll believe the DDA has sustainability on the mind when I start hearing from downtown retailers that the DDA is spending more time asking them how they can help their stores (or get out of their way) than bars or the DDA's reputation with the Main Street program.