♦ On Friday Maia’s Fashions, at 103 S. Main Street in Downtown Salisbury, sadly announced it was closing. The once popular anchor store, near the Square, placed “going out of business” sale signs in its windows. Saturday, when staff was taking photos of the latest closing, we noted how quiet the streets were.
Maia’s Fashions was closing its doors after an 11 year run. Neighbors inform us that Maia Janashia Smith, the owner and a native of Soviet Georgia, attributed the shrinking retail business Downtown to persons being able to purchase goods on the internet for much cheaper prices. Maia is reported to be going in another direction, teaching yoga and holistic health something a dire need exists for in Rowan County.
All across the United States brick and mortar retailers, both small independent and big box chain stores, are feeling the vice-like squeeze of the internet, with mega-giants like Amazon.com, dominating commerce with far lower prices, buying goods less expensively in mass bulk, and shipping them with next day service if required. The competition is lopsided. Chain stores are downsizing, going boutique, developing a better internet presence, or simply shutting down in the face of overwhelming competition.
Downtown Salisbury’s retail’s shelf life is markedly shortened by not only uneven internet competition, but by Salisbury’s uptick in violent and property crime. Many folks just don’t want to chance it coming into Salisbury. This greatly diminishes traffic to Main Street. Numerous vacant storefronts and the South Main’s Badlands blight are not draws. Added to retailer’s burdens are Downtown Salisbury’s extremely high Municipal Service District Tax to support the decrepit Empire Hotel. Adding to the retailer’s woes are insufficient parking, panhandlers, excessive vandalism, high leases (in some cases “triple net), expensive historic codes, and the fact that most stores close down before dark when the streets become gamey.
We suspect the Downtown will be forced to remake itself in a wholly different direction if it wants to survive.
We wish the best of success to Maia Janashia Smith and her yoga and health enterprises!