My esteemed colleague Roy says that “Weston Village could be a showcase of how to do retail but currently it’s a showcase of how not to do it”, and, to be sure, we remain startlingly coffee and cupcake free.
But call me naive, or call me hopeful: I see the green shoots of regeneration in Weston. No, we are not yet the Junction or Streetsville. Yet over the winter, some good things have happened on the strip.
First, a cheque cashing store closed. The economist in me says that cheque-cashing operations are small businesses like any other, providing a service and making a well-earned profit. The moralist in me says that they are predatory vampire squids sucking blood from the poorest and worst-served among us. Split the difference?
I was a little more bummed to see Sang Chinese food go. It was the first place I ever ate at in Weston, on the night I moved in. After I read about their consistent yellow cards, though, I didn’t go back. Call me particular.
But now, the good news:
There is a (relatively) new department store on Weston Road, the second in a single block. I think this is fascinating. Across Canada, department stores are closing. Sears is in a spiral dive, Target took a bullet, and Zellers, Towers, Kresge’s and Eaton’s now only moan and rattle their chains. But on Weston Road, these shopkeepers think they can sail against those headwinds.¹
And I have to say, I think they’ll succeed. The Canadian Outlet Store opened before Christmas, and it’s pretty great. It’s small and spotless, and the prices are good. It’s stuffed with everything from cell phones to clothing to table lamps, but it works. It’s a smart idea: there are lot of people within a short walk of there, many of whom are not very mobile. These one-stop shops could do very well.
I, for one, think that this small change might be the beginning of bigger things in Weston. The stores at the competitive margins—payday loan shops and bad Chinese restaurants—are making way for new, much more interesting places.
¹ Four metaphors, one paragraph–that’s for you, Maureen.