Regina's downtown grows despite economic downturn
New businesses opening, others expanding
New businesses are opening and others are expanding in downtown Regina, despite the economic downturn in the province.
A large brick building on 11th Avenue has a new culinary purpose with the recently opened Malt City restaurant and a new location of the local Atlantis Coffee Co. opening just across the hall.
"It's exciting. It feels really nice," Atlantis CEO Timothy Martin said.
Martin took over the original Atlantis location in the Queen City in 2006 and always had plans to expand.
"[When] real estate went sideways in 2008, it changed a lot of people's lives, but it didn't change Atlantis Coffee. We just kept going," he said.
Even though they've opened their second location at a time when many companies are scrimping dollars, Martin is optimistic.
"We are just cruising along you know. Oil and coffee are very different things," he said.
Leopold's Tavern on Albert Street is preparing for an expansion and managing partner Greg Hooker said they will be opening a third location, Leopold's North, in the next few months.
"That was something that was in the mix quite a while ago — like when you think about the economy nowadays — but it doesn't seem to be affecting us terribly at this point," Hooker said.
Regina's economy has been cooling off. In September, the Conference Board of Canada said lower prices for many of Saskatchewan's key commodities, including oil, potash, uranium and wheat, will put a damper on the city's economy.
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Executive director with the Regina Downtown Business Improvement District Judith Veresuk said the BID is working to get businesses through the downturn.
"I think a lot of them are pulling through. They've weathered the great times and now they are just going through a little bit of a downturn," she said.
Every year most restaurants and retail stores see a downward trend in sales in the months following the Christmas season.
"This year I think it's just maybe a touch slower than it was in past years," Veresuk said.
She said they have done campaigns like the recent Restaurant Week and used social media to help people "come back downtown."
"People will continue to buy good product and they will always come back for good service," she said.
A few slow days aren't deterring the local businesses.
"I mean, sure there's risk, but I think as long as we stay on top of things we should be all right," Martin said.