Another Edmonton business closes due to construction on 102 Avenue bridge

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WATCH ABOVE: The closure of the 102 Avenue bridge is claiming another retail victim. The span has been closed off for 20 months, meaning thousands of people are using a different route to get around. As Vinesh Pratap reports, it's led to come difficult consequences. – Mar 11, 2016
EDMONTON — Harlow, a locally-owned boutique in Edmonton’s 124 Street shopping district, is closing up shop in April. The owner of the store says lagging sales due to the ongoing construction on the 102 Avenue bridge over Groat Road are mostly to blame for the closure.

“We didn’t think it would affect things as much as it did,” said shop owner Sandy Gillis, adding that lifestyle changes also partially contributed to the decision to close.

Harlow opened its doors on 125 Street and 102 Avenue just before work on the bridge began in July 2014. Gillis knew the work would impact business, but thought the closure would only last until September 2015 as originally planned.

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But, after delay upon delay, the opening date for the $32-million project is now set for summer or fall 2016.

“Nobody likes to be inconvenienced and it is a little bit of a trickiness to get in here,” Gillis said. “I think people just naturally want to have access where it’s easy to get to.

“I think with the bridge extending a whole extra year it definitely was a game-changer as far as what made our decision.”

Harlow isn’t the first business in the area to close. The Bothy Wine & Whisky Bar’s 124 Street location shuttered its doors in August 2015, saying foot traffic in the area went down as construction on the bridge continued.

In January 2016, local specialty kitchen shop Call the Kettle Black called it quits, saying the bridge construction was the “nail in the coffin.”

Global News spoke to Gillis then, and she was hopeful her business could continue on.

READ MORE: 102 Ave. bridge construction ‘nail in the coffin’ for Edmonton’s Call the Kettle Black

The contractor is paying the city more than $11,000 per day for the delays, but it’s of little help to the struggling businesses.

“I actually have a meeting tonight where we’re looking at ways to maybe open up some further parking in the area to help with that. But it’s sad news,” city councillor Scott McKeen said Thursday.

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Gillis still hopes business will come back to the area once the bridge reopens – but she isn’t willing to wait to find out.

“At this point in my life and in Harlow’s life we didn’t want to wait that out.”

This isn’t a final farewell for Harlow, though. Gillis owns a gift shop in Crestwood called Lyndale Accents. She plans to bring together the best of both shops at the Crestwood location under the name Harlow in May.

A month-long closing sale starts March 19 at Harlow High Street. The last day of business will be April 22.

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