By MAGGIE M, Editor, the wedge.LIVE ❤️ SHARE this story by clicking the buttons at the end.
Out of the blue I opted to visit Michele Baitley, Owner, Michele’s Doorway To Splendour, Smiths Falls–a purveyor of high quality consignment fashion for women. It seemed I arrived on the heels of a crushing revelation.
For those who do not know Baitley, she is perhaps the most lovable business owner in town. Her smile is always brimming and her outlook, always positive. Out of character, she posted the following heartfelt, public declaration (verbatim) on Facebook. The town is now awash with chatter and reflection on-line.
“Being a business owner in Smiths Falls has truly been a dream for me. I have always been proud that I can say that I lived here most of my life and always spoke highly of our quaint little town. Today though I received sad news that another local business is leaving and going to Perth. This business owner has put her time and effort into building her reputation into one that is well respected. I just feel and this is my opinion what are we doing wrong that in the last year two… businesses have decided to move to Perth. When people walk into my business that are amazed at how well it’s set up and clean and organized it is. The question here is “WHY” would they be amazed. Just because it’s located in Smiths Falls doesn’t say it’s going to be any different than if it was in any other town. I know one of the other business would get the same comments as well. We as a community as well as other businesses need to figure out how we can attract new businesses to our town and support the existing ones. We don’t need to be arguing about whether or not we have angle or parallel parking because if we don’t start getting new businesses in town there will be lots of empty parking spaces. I am not in the habit of ranting on Social Media I just was very concerned for our town when I heard that news today. Thanks for reading this if you did.”
Rebecca Nolan, Owner, Swissmiss Bridal, and neighbor to Michele’s is moving her business to Perth. (Of Swiss progeny, “Swissmiss” was her nickname in school.)
Nolan is evidently a skilled retailer catering to brides-to-be. She shared disappointments with the town’s economic focus with me in tandem with her affection for the town. I have heard these words before–and again recently from an established retailer also planning to sell (or close) in a month.
Basically, the message chorus drills down to, “we feel ignored.” There is also a consensus, the public has a misconception about Smiths Falls–that it is indeed a beautiful town–and it is the job of its officials to correct that perception in its marketing, driving feet into town.
I have written about Russell Street’s trendiness in the past; but, Beckwith South in Smiths Falls is another “chi-chi” segment of downtown. The departure of Swissmiss will leave a gaping hole on this charming little retail strip with high calibre tenants as Michele’s, Strands Hair Salon and C’est Tout Bakery. Will this departure give “rise at the falls” to a moment of corporate self-awareness?
Smiths Falls’s loss is Perth’s gain. Again. I am baffled as I have nothing but appreciation for the current administration; however, there is a disconnect somewhere.
No doubt, 2019’s revitalization will put a further dent into business health. I am hopeful, 2020 will bring back the “splendour” Baitley delivers every day.