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British Store moves to Surrey
The fire in Downtown New Westminster last October may have claimed another business victim.
The British Store on Columbia Street is moving to the Newton neighbourhood of Surrey. Owner Andy Bradshaw said it was strictly a business decision. The president of the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association (BIA) said he’s still bullish on the area for business.
But not right now.
Bradshaw said many of his customers worked in the buildings that burned down across the street in the Oct. 10 big blaze. In addition, all the construction up and down Columbia Street has made it inconvenient for his customers.
He needed a place where he could bake pies, with plenty of warehouse space and free parking right outside the front door.
“You can’t do that on Columbia any more. It’s a construction zone,” said Bradshaw.
So he’s moving to a space on 72nd Avenue at 133rd Street in Surrey where his rent will be $3,000, a third of what he’s paying in New Westminster. He already owns a shop in Maple Ridge. The new Surrey shop opens Sunday, and the New West store will remain open until September.
Bradshaw started his shop in 1997. He bought the building on Columbia in 2005 for $385,000 and sold it three years ago for $1 million when the property taxes jumped $2,000 a year.
After the sale he signed a three-year lease with an option for another three years but decided not to renew.
He does, however, expect Downtown will eventually flourish once many of the projects such as the Anvil Centre, Trapp+Holbrook and the Front Street parkade deconstruction are completed.
“It’s going to be incredible. I would look at coming back once all the construction’s done. My heart’s in New Westminster,” said Bradshaw. “All the positives of what’s happening in the Downtown core is all good, it’s just business-wise how long can they last?”
Bradshaw said he can’t afford to wait until the construction dust settles. Looming on the horizon are the new buildings at the fire site which Bradshaw said “is going to be insane.”
That said, Bradshaw is excited about the Merchant Square office tower on top of the Anvil Centre civic facility. The employees there will be a good customer base for local merchants.
“It’s fine having a density of general population, but the problem is with retail you need the shoppers during the day,” he said.
Downtown New West needs more little grocery shops, and services to supply the local needs, he added.
Bradshaw promised to remain as BIA president until the organization finds a replacement.
“I believe in the organization,” he said.