BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Good intentions just did not work out for “The Shops at HarborCenter.”
It was announced Thursday that the three stores that made up the retail strip would vacate their satellite locations by the end of September.
"They really wanted to showcase local businesses. It was a great idea,” said Clayton’s Toy Store owner Tera McElligott.
But Clayton's, a local toy store that's survived 101 years in Williamsville, could not survive downtown.
With the growth of Canalside, there was hope that increased foot traffic on the water would translate to increased traffic at the HarborCenter shops.
"You're not going to buy toys and then bring them to a concert at Canalside,” McElligott said.
The owner of Fowler's Chocolates, Ted Marks, expressed doubt about the chocolatier’s HarborCenter location about a year ago. Sometime after, Modern Nostalgia closed its waterfront doors.
Now, the three remaining shops are all set to close.
"We just weren't getting the foot traffic. I mean, for us, it was kind of a wash. It was a mutual decision between all of the shops and HarborCenter to call it quits,” McElligott said.
Whether physical barriers like the train tracks or the Skyway stopped people from going that far is unclear, but some feel design plays a part. Western New Yorkers on social media felt there wasn’t enough signage.
"It would have been nice to have a door that went right out to Main Street there, it would have been nice if the train stopped there. You could say it was because of the fencing around Canalside, or the huge [VIP] tent that kind of blocked the view of us, but really, I think the problem is that people just aren't ready to shop downtown yet. They just don't think of it as a place to go shopping,” McElligott said, thoughtfully considering the two years and one month Clayton’s will have been at Canalside.
HarborCenter would not elaborate on why the stores were leaving, only confirming their departure. A spokesperson wrote simply by statement, in part, "We are having ongoing discussions with several potential tenants and hope to soon unveil new retail offerings that will join The Healthy Scratch in continuing to enhance the Canalside district at The Shops at HarborCenter."
The Healthy Scratch is the new food store run by Jessie and Kelly Pegula, inside their parents' building.
Fowler’s and Red Siren are the other two stores closing next month. The Tim Horton’s on the corner of the building will stay open.
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