Why this store owner is pleading with Islanders to buy local, days before closing up shop

An Island business owner is hoping the closure of her store in downtown Charlottetown will send a message to shoppers about the importance of buying local, and what's at risk if they don't. 

On New Year's Eve, Nessya Neemron is shutting down her jewlery store, Nessya's Gems and Jewels, after 14 years on Queen Street. 

She says while her first 10 years in operation were successful, sales started to dip after that.

In the past two years, her shop lost money. She suspects the rise of online shopping is largely to blame. 

"I understand people want the convenience, and they have a right to it," she said. 

"I just hope this story will invoke some thoughts in people, of what happens when we don't walk enough into small businesses.… When we stop spending as much as we used to locally, places are going to disappear."

Steve Bruce/CBC

Neemron employed two full-time staff at her shop and four other part-time workers during the summer months. 

She said it's the loss of those jobs that hurts the most. 

Our bread and butter that keeps us going all year is our local customers. — Nessya Neemron

"That really truly breaks my heart," she said.

"I'm not going to be here anymore. But please remember all the other small businesses who are actually employing our local people, that are contributing to the local economy."

'A real concern' 

Dan MacDonald, who co-owns The Bookmark in downtown Charlottetown, said his store continues to thrive despite the growing popularity of online book sales.  

But he said the closure of a long-time local downtown business is worrisome.  

Steve Bruce/CBC

"It's the collective business community in downtown that helps to bring people here. And if one disappears, that's a real concern," said MacDonald. 

"I think, as local businesses, we should be doing more to promote ourselves. We should have a shop local campaign."

Neemron said she thinks more parking options in the downtown would also entice more people to shop locally, instead of online. 

"There's no parking downtown. That's the one complaint we hear constantly," she said. 

"If the city built another parkade or provided other spaces, it would be much easier."

'Our bread and butter … is our local customers'

Neemron said she does still plan to sell her jewelry to tourists at Charlottetown's cruise ship terminal during the summer and early fall, as she's been doing for the past decade. 

But she said without more Islanders buying her products, keeping a shop open year-round just isn't viable. 

"Our bread and butter that keeps us going all year is our local customers. And it's just not there as much as it used to be unfortunately."

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