Rising rents forcing small businesses out of downtown Raleigh

Posted February 23, 2016 7:15 p.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2016 11:35 a.m. EST

— 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.