Change is coming: 4 shops closing
Four businesses in downtown Elkader will close this summer but the town’s economic development director says there’s no reason for alarm: Elkader remains one of the most vibrant communities in Clayton County.
“Nobody’s closing because business is bad,” said Roger Thomas, Director of the Elkader Economic Development Corporation. “More than anything, it’s an indication of the shifting interests of business owners.”
At least one departing merchant agrees with Thomas’ assessment.
“The weather has been hard this year but Whimsy Market has been doing pretty well,” said Shannon Durbin, who recently decided not to renew her lease. “We have great customers and a lot of fun. I’m really going to miss it. But I realized I’m way too busy with three other jobs, a three-year-old, and one on the way. I needed to cut back.”
Durbin toyed with the idea of reducing to weekend hours only but ultimately decided that would be unfair to her vendors and customers.
Also closing this summer are The Buttery, Elkader Dry Cleaners & Tuxedo Rental and Voss Realty.
Thomas, whose job includes knowing business succession plans, said the empty storefronts wouldn’t stay empty for long. Ute Gage, who owns the dry cleaners’, has sold her building to a book publisher.
“This is a totally new venture for Elkader, which is exciting,” said Thomas. “It’s a blow to lose an iconic storefront—and that applies to the other businesses, as well—but it’s good to have people going into these spaces.”
Thomas added that people representing a couple of different “enterprises” have contacted him about The Buttery space. Caleb and Danielle Shea are in the process of purchasing the building, where Danielle has an office. As new owners, they will have input into how the space is used. Thomas is fairly certain a retailer will lease the spot.
There’s interest in the Voss Realty building as well. Rumors have been circulating that another realtor is interested in the space, which Thomas would neither confirm nor deny.
Keeping storefronts filled is not the only thing occupying Thomas’ time. He’s also working with two developers who are interested in bringing another hotel to Elkader. He said he hopes to see some movement in that direction yet this summer.
Thomas also plays a pivotal role in the façade project to restore downtown store fronts to their historic splendor. Work on that effort is expected to begin after Sweet Corn Days.
By Pam Reinig