Rising rents forcing small businesses out of downtown Raleigh

Posted February 23, 2016
Updated February 24, 2016

— Downtown Raleigh is growing, but some retailers are suffering as a result.

Locally owned, independent businesses are finding it harder to do business downtown because rents charged by landlords are growing along with the central business district, according to Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh.

"Property value, it's just soaring in this area right now. It makes it very hard for the small business to compete sometimes," Martin said Tuesday.

Ornamentea, a bead and jewelry shop, is going out of business after 17 years on North West Street.

"We're closing our doors. We're having a big close-out sale and sell everything," owner Cynthia Deis said. "There is some sadness. It's beautiful, and I love it, and we have amazing customers."

Raleigh officials have formed a retail task force to study some of the challenges independent retailers face downtown and citywide. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance booster organization also offers grants to help small businesses defray some of their costs.

Still, some entrepreneurs are willing to pay the higher price of doing business downtown.

"We want to be a part of the community that goes beyond just being residents," said Ana Maria Munoz, owner of Port of Raleigh, a home goods store on South McDowell Street. "Investing in our community with a business that adds to it was just a no-brainer for us."

Munoz added that rent isn't as steep as in other big cities where she's lived.

Also, Ornamentea's building has a new owner, who has a plan for a new development on the property.


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  • Ashley Sue Mar 2, 2016
    user avatar

    It's like, the reporter wanted to do a timely story on a local loved business closing, and wanted to do a separate story on rising rent in ever-growing Raleigh... and got lazy and spliced them together without due diligence as to her duty as a supposed journalist. It's just sad.

  • Ashley Sue Mar 2, 2016
    user avatar

    I find it incredibly disturbing that Ms. Heffernan used Ornamentea as the focal point for her piece by manipulating the footage and info to fit the story she WANTED to tell. That is not journalism at all. It's tabloid. Ms. Heffernan is an eloquent reporter, but with how badly she abused a source in order to create a package - for a relatively low impact story - makes me question her entire body of work. After all, how much will she/others manipulate when the piece is really juicy? This is exactly why people despise talking to reporters: the media burn the sources and never so much as glance back. The mere fact Cynthia has been open about the store closing for months, and after this WRAL piece had to send out a rather angry clarification to the thousands on their listserv, means this reporter had no excuse. Simply couldn't find or was too lazy to find an appropriate soundbyte, so she just figured she'd make the puzzle piece in her hand jam into the spot she wanted. Truly disappointing.

  • Gina Likins Feb 24, 2016
    user avatar

    I am afraid that the author of this piece has completely misrepresented what's going on with Ornamentea (perhaps in order to garner more clicks?). As Cynthia has told *everyone* (including the reporter who interviewed her), her reasons for closing the shop are about her family's growth -- *not* about unhappiness. See this blog post for more details:

    In addition, she's been quite clear about the fact that her rent has been stable for 10 years.

    It would be far more helpful (and truthful) if reporters stuck to the facts.