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‘It’s going to be a huge loss to the community’

AMHERST – The closure early next year of Dayle’s Department Store is going to be a blow to the downtown and the community, say area business leaders.

The closure early next year of Dayle's Department Store is going to create a huge void in the Amherst economy, say area business leaders.

“It’s going to be a huge loss to the community,” Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin of Manasseh Local Market said on Monday. “I have spoken with several other business owners and we are all thinking of the Cormier family. This was a difficult decision for them. They have poured their hearts into their business for years. This is a hard time for their employees.”

On Saturday, the Cormier family issued a statement saying the store that has been a fixture in the downtown since it opened as the Two Barkers in 1906 will close early in 2016 for several reasons, including rising operational costs and changes in shopping habits.

The closure is expected to affect approximately 30 full and part-time workers, many of whom have been with the store for years.

Smith-McCrossin, who operates a store just up the street from Dayle’s, said the move is following a national trend that has seen operational costs rise, including commercial taxes, wages and power rates. It has also been impacted by increased online shopping.

“In January we saw Target close 133 stores across Canada and Sony closed all 14 of its stores. We saw Smart Set close and Sears cut 2,200 employees from its payroll,” she said. “It’s something that’s happening everywhere to big and small business.”

She said the growth of online shopping has made it difficult for businesses that have a storefront. She feels government needs to examine how business is taxed.

“If they continue to increase property valuations and commercial taxes they are contributing to the demise of small businesses,” she said.

George Douglas, who is co-owner of JG Jewelers, said the loss of Dayle’s will have an impact.

“In my opinion Dayle’s was the anchor store of the downtown. I hope economic development steps up their game a bit. I’m sorry we lost lots of businesses over the years,” said Douglas.

Clint Brown said he was surprised by the news, adding it’s going to lead to more out-of-town shopping.

“It’s a shame to lose such a long-standing staple of our community. It’s terrible news for folks working out there,” Brown said.

Gladys Coish of the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce said the news is devastating to Amherst and northern Nova Scotia.

“Dayle’s has a reach and a draw much further than our county. When other shoppers from outside our province come to Dayle’s they increase profits for many other businesses,” Coish said. “During my time as president of the chamber of commerce I have had many opportunities to question our current provincial Liberal government and the minister of finance about what their plan is to help border towns such as Amherst.”

She said the lower HST in New Brunswick is hurting Amherst and is calling on the province to take another look at this disparity.

The province has already said it is not in a financial position to undo the two per cent increase in the HST put in place by the former NDP government.

Mayor Robert Small said he spoke to the Cormier family late last week and understands their position.

He feels the HST did impact sales while high-paying jobs continue to be eroded in the community with the loss of government jobs in recent years.

“This is a blow to the downtown in terms of the traffic to keep everyone busy. It’s going to hurt,” the mayor said.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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