Downtown Salmon Arm has seen several new businesses open in recent months. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Downtown Salmon Arm has seen several new businesses open in recent months. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Downtown Salmon Arm retail space in demand

Community organizations look at ways to target new business, diversify

Folks shopping for a place to set up shop in Salmon Arm’s downtown might find it a challenge.

Over the past year, despite pandemic-related challenges, several new businesses opened in the city’s core. At least one downtown business was able to expand, while another is said to be moving into a larger, recently vacated space nearby.

The net result this summer is a vibe very different from the downtown Salmon Arm of summer 2016, when the number of vacant stores was enough to be a concern for existing business owners.

“The downtown is vibrant,” said commercial property owner Bill Laird, adding he has only one retail space left in the downtown and he expects that will go by the fall. “As far as I can see, the town is doing absolutely great. Everybody seems to be busy.”

Jennifer Broadwell, manager with the Salmon Arm Downtown Improvement Association, said while the downtown isn’t quite at capacity, a number of empty retail spaces have recently been snapped up – a trend that appears to be continuing.

“We’re experiencing so much growth right now, which is really cool, and it would be lovely to be able to assist in the way that we grow in some capacity,” said Broadwell.

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Broadwell said Downtown Salmon Arm and the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society are collaborating on developing business attraction campaigns, ways to target new businesses for the core that would not just be a good fit, but encourage a mix of businesses in the area.

“We’re in the process of trying to figure out what that would look like and who that would be,” said Broadwell, noting some cities offer incentives to help guide growth in commercial areas.

“I don’t think that’s something Salmon Arm has had the ability to do up to this point. Maybe we’re moving into that direction now.”

As downtown Salmon Arm continues to grow and diversify, Broadwell hopes it might it lessen the need for people to shop out of town. It also might spark further consideration of present and future needs such as parking, commercial space and residential opportunities in the downtown.

“I definitely feel like we are seeing viable change in our downtown core…,” said Broadwell. “It’s lovely to see we’re attracting business owners from other communities. There’s a reason for that. There’s a mix that’s working. And as long as we keep our eye on positive growth and are mindful of what it is we actually need, I think there’s a really cool future ahead for Salmon Arm.”

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