Further Down The Slide

Tuomi-HeaderThe clock had barely struck noon when a large truck and three men wearing white gloves arrived in Walkerville on November 3. Assiduously, the trio commenced to loading the chattels of William’s Grocery.

For over two years this staple of the Bates Building on Wyandotte Street East offered a curated collection of foodstuffs, adding to the acclaimed ambiance of one of Windsor’s oldest neighbourhoods.

While some thought a possible grocery store Hail Mary might save the place, the arrival of the gloved men told a different story. Another unique Windsor merchant was done.

In the cozy food emporium’s wake was a simple message on its website, “Thanks again to all the customers that helped us give it a try.”

A few doors down, a curious sign has been spotted at one shop claiming a technical problem had limited payment options to cash only. Often such subtle minor operational changes can signal more is going on, particularly since this technical glitch seemed to outlast a quick fix.

It could be the operator was conducting a local protest of Wal-Mart proportions. The world’s largest retailer is waging war with the Visa organization. It wants the credit card giant to lower the fees it pays to accept the cash substitute.

So far, Wal-Mart stores in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg no longer accept Visa, but the credit-issuing company has not blinked. Wal-Mart intends to continue refusing the card until all of its stores are included.

Could it be a case of a Walkerville store mounting such a protest or, much more sinister, is it an indication the shop can no longer afford to pay the fees? Owners of small businesses rarely become instant millionaires.

This is something Bill Hucker, the founder of William’s, made clear in December 15, 2014. After a flower pot was thrown through his front window he told CTV News that he had, “… just opened six months ago and any new business doesn’t make money and this money is out the window, literally.”

For struggling retailers, taking cash instead of plastic has its advantages. It is free of fees, something citizens should consider when patronizing local.

With Walkerville losing more and more stores, including the expected closure of its last remaining bank in less than half a year, another loss on the commercial strip could be catastrophic to the often heralded bona fide success story.

In reality, all is not that well in the Ville.

During its most depressing times, only a few years ago, before it exploded, storefronts were being rented out to business-to-business companies, offering such services as website design. These companies departed with their space converted back to retail or restaurants.

But not all left.

A promotional company and two accounting companies still command sidewalk retail space. And none of the area’s empty lots have been developed beyond high fences erected to block them from view.

What is next for Walkerville will probably be decided quite shortly if, or when, the newly departed are replaced with other enterprises.

About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi