♦ More sad news for Downtown Salisbury this week as we learned that one of Downtown’s true gems the Southern Spirit Gallery, a folksy art gallery specializing in paintings, carvings, pottery, and glass at 102 S. Main Street will be closing its doors on December 31st. Through the remainder of this week their stock will be on sale at 25% off. Everything goes including store fittings and furniture. The store opened in 2009–a 7 year stint in an extremely difficult to survive retail and restaurant area is a badge to be worn.
Stores and eateries come and go bucking a high overhead caused by costly leases (some triple net), a municipal service district tax said to be the highest of its kind in North Carolina, little pedestrian and vehicular traffic, the three Ps of Downtown Salisbury: pilferage, panhandling, and lack of parking. Uninviting South Main blight, graffiti and gang tangs, street beatings, stickups, vandalism, and rocks hurled through windows. There’s a certain wisdom in shopkeepers closing down at night.
Those few businesses that survive year after year in Downtown, Salisbury are like a hardened combat unit, they’ve learned to accept that many of their new friends will not be around a few months after Christmas when they’ve read the large bold cursive on the wall. They can’t afford to stay open. Perhaps some will shift their business to a different spot Downtown in hopes of better business, but often closing is inevitable.
This holiday Downtown shopping season was exceptionally hard. Most Americans shop online and favor Amazon and other internet giants like Walmart, Target, and Best Buys. Brick and mortar are on the way out–even the large chain big box stores are feeling the onslaught of online shopping. In Salisbury and Rowan County most chain store shoppers drive to Concord Mills, Afton Ridge, Huntersville, and Winston Salem if they shop in a brick and mortar at all.
In 2016 the Southern Spirit Gallery will join an other Downtown gallery the Duck Blind Gallery that closed in 2016 (Maybe 2015). Others retailers going down this year were Hometown Furniture, Jerky Station, OK Wigs (for a time the oldest surviving retailer in Downtown), Bellisima, Dead Eds, Romo’s Pizza, Spring Robin Custom Framing, Brew Pit, and countless others with forgettable names. Because of 2016’s horrific holiday shopping season between now and April or May 2017 more retailers and restaurants will wave goodbye.