Business owners depend upon the winter sledders, as well as the summer tourists. In small towns in Muskoka, the rents are as high as some locales in Toronto.
You can read the discussion in Bracebridge:
"Deputy mayor Steve Clement recently expressed concern about the state of the downtown. Clement noted that several stores have closed in town in recent months. He wondered if rents are too high for some business owners.
Coates feels Bracebridge is mainly a business-friendly town and believes these storefronts will fill up soon."
For business owners who rent, they are paying Toronto prices, for a two-month, perhaps a 3-month season. If they pay high rents, and have tourists in only the summer months, it makes sense that many businesses are going under. The shoulder seasons (June/September), are difficult seasons, bracketing summer as they do. While the tourists go home, seniors on fixed incomes have to watch their pennies.
To illustrate the issues around the big box stores...
Olives, for example, at Sobey's are 25 - 35% cheaper, because they get a bulk discount.
But she cannot keep this up.
We make it our policy to support local businesses. It is important to us. But this isn't the case for those from the city.
You have to make a mighty good dollar in this economy, and in a seasonal place like Muskoka it is difficult.
Gravenhurst has been busily putting in Big Box stores; at the expense of smaller family-run businesses, but I cannot see that this is good for any of us. I enjoy shopping in smaller family stores, where people go out of their way to help us.
Do we need a big box hardware store, with its lights on all night?
It is the same, then, in a bigger place like Bracebridge, and it is a shame. Many shut down their businesses in the deep winter. Several eateries in Bala close by 3 p.m., since the contractors are on their way home and they provide most of their clientele.
The restaurants find it difficult keeping staff. There aren't places for them to live in summer. I am not sure the answer to this, except for landlords to understand the economy. The new mall in Gravenhurst is daunting. If I wanted a big box store...well, I don't! I spent a lifetime living in Toronto, and another in Ottawa.