White Rock business owner says more support needed for small shops in face of development

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White Rock business owner says more support needed for small shops in face of development

White Rock, B.C. is going through a lot of changes with high rises popping up throughout the waterfront community, and with all the new development there are some casualties.

Laura's Fashion Fabrics has been part of the collection of small businesses on Johnston Road for nearly four decades, but it's set to close by the end of the month.

The two storey storefront is being torn down to make way for a seniors complex, and while owner Laura Shaw thinks it's the right place for the facility, it doesn't make letting her business go any easier.

Shaw plans to go out with style by throwing a thank you party for her customers to say one last goodbye to those she watched grow over the years.

"A lot of them are like family," she said with a lump in her throat.

"Some of them come in and say you sold me my fabric and now you're selling my child fabric. It's fun to see them all grow, see their families grow, see them sew for their families.

"The exciting part that they don't realize is we've gotten to watch their sewing skills develop and they don't realize how much they've grown."

In with the new

She looked for another storefront to relocate to, but said that the whole city is facing the same reality: out with the old and in with the new.

Many of the White Rock shops are aging and showing wear, said White Rock acting deputy mayor, Coun. Bill Lawrence, who added the city doesn't have the space to build out anymore.

"There's been so much in the way of infill at least on the residential side and our focus is being in the city centre," Lawrence says.

But Shaw hopes that more can be done in the way of compromise or communication for other small businesses in the area.

"They need to build communities where people still feel like it's a community even with the tall buildings, and I think unfortunately that's the part that's really missing," Shaw said.

As Lawrence points out, the city tries to organize community events like Canada Day celebrations, Tour de White Rock, White Rock Sea Festival and more, but knows how important long standing businesses are to keeping a community connected.

Lawrence co-owned the Sandpiper Pub before it closed in September last year and says he definitely misses the ruckus and friendly neighbourhood atmosphere, especially on weekends like this.

"It sort of hits hard and on a day like today, Saint Patty's Day when I'm usually wearing green and getting some green beer spilled all over me so it was a bit of a challenge not getting to jump all over that this year."

The reality, he says, is it's hard for landlords and property owners to say no when offered a pretty penny by developers.

Shaw says that her and the girls at Fashion Fabrics aren't ready to retire altogether and hope to find spaces to do pop up shops for sewing classes and workshops in the future.

With files from the CBC's On The Coast

To hear the full interview listen to audio labelled White rock business owner says more support needed for small shops in face of development