This weekend, another downtown Raleigh store closed its door for good, after what proved to be a difficult year for local businesses.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance, and local businesses owners say they need everyone to support shops and restaurants to help sustain them.

“We’ve built the downtown rival over the last decade off of all the small and independent retailers and restaurants. Each one that goes over under the circumstances of the last year is hard. It’s emotional,” said Downtown Raleigh Alliance Director of Economic Development and Planning, Will Gaskins.

Since 1997 Father & Son Antiques has been a staple in downtown Raleigh.  Owner Kiyomi Ownbey says 2020 was one of the most difficult they’ve ever faced when they closed due to the pandemic.

“I thought it was going to be four weeks.  It turned out to be three months, so we were terrified,” said Ownbey.

While Ownbey’s business was able to weather the storm, pivoting to online retail, others were not.

“It breaks my heart because I know how much time, effort and passion everyone has,” Ownbey said.

On Saturday, Raleigh Provisions became the latest downtown business to close permanently.

An Instagram post announcing the closure, Raleigh Provision’s owners wrote they “held in there for as long as we could.”  The post went on asking everyone to “make a strong and concerted effort to support local, independent businesses in your community…and not just through this unbelievably challenging time, but all times.”

According to Gaskins, 33 new storefronts opened in 2020, and roughly the same amount closed.
“Collectively for the year we’re about even net,” he said.

Gaskins says 2020 started off with more businesses opening than closing, but the summer months were the hardest for businesses.

“The last four months of the year we were able to turn the momentum around,” said Gaskins.  “Since September we’ve had 12 new businesses open and eight permanent closings.”

Gaskins credits grants totally $375,000 from Duke Energy to helping existing business pivot during the pandemic.

Without employees in downtown offices going out for lunch and fewer tourists, The Downtown Raleigh Alliance held several events to bring people into the city, like public art installations, and pop-up shops.

“Raleigh as a whole and the Raleigh community is a place that really loves their local establishments,” said Gaskins.

The Downtown Raleigh Alliance hopes to replicate these events in 2021, but says they need everyone’s support to sustain the shops and restaurants.