Small Business

Inkwell Boutique in Halifax feeling construction pain

Road closure will continue through Christmas shopping season

Andrea Rahal works in her boutique on Market Street.
Andrea Rahal works in her boutique on Market Street.   Emma Meldrum

Customers of a Market Street paper store are fighting an uphill battle to reach Inkwell Boutique.

The shop is surrounded by Nova Centre construction and the street is currently closed to cars. One sidewalk remains open to give access to businesses like Inkwell Modern Handmade Boutique and Applehead Studio.

Inkwell’s owner Andrea Rahal said that isn’t enough.

“It’s been really frustrating. There’s always very little notice when it actually happens so it’s hard to get the word out,” Rahal said in a phone interview. “People almost expect it to be closed now and that they’ll have to come on foot.”

“I’m not against new construction and development. I’m excited for the new Halifax,” Rahal said in an email. “I am however disappointed in the lack of forethought…Giving us two days notice before a three plus week closure is inconsiderate when it’s widely known that this period is crucial for retail sales.”

Construction is limiting access to Inkwell Boutique on Market Street.
Construction is limiting access to Inkwell Boutique on Market Street.   Emma Meldrum

Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson for HRM said the recent closure of Market Street is due to the installation of an underground water main for the Nova Centre.

“We liaise closely with contractors and developers while this work that has to take place moves forward,” Chase said in a phone interview. “We do maintain pedestrian access on one side of the sidewalk and local traffic is accommodated.”

Chase said peak shopping season is not a factor the city considers when evaluating an application for street closures.

The closure poses a problem for Inkwell especially as shopping ramps up for the Christmas season.

“I am trying to do everything I can so that there isn’t [an effect on sales],” Rahal said. “We’re just hoping more people will tell their friends.”

Rahal said she’s relying on word of mouth and communicating with regulars to keep customers coming. Inkwell is holding a customer appreciation day on Saturday to thank their loyal clients and encourage new ones to visit the shop.

Sam Shannon runs Better Left Said. Some of her products are sold at Inkwell where she is also a part-time employee.

Shannon posted a photo of the Market Street construction on Better Left Said’s Facebook page with this caption:

 

This pretty little shop is continuously surrounded by ugly construction. Market St. will be closed to traffic, basically…

Posted by Better Left Said on Sunday, November 22, 2015

Shannon hopes that the post reminds people that Inkwell is open despite the road closure.

“I know a lot of people see the road closed sign and they turn around. They don’t think twice about it. They don’t realize we’re still here and we’re still open,” Shannon said in a phone interview. “It should affect people. It should tug on their heartstrings a little bit that local businesses are suffering. Even though it’s a good long-term thing for our city, in the short term pains are felt by businesses here downtown.”