Sackville Businesses Celebrate Strong 2013

From the Bedford/Sackville Community Herald:

“2013 was a momentous year for Sackville’s business community, with 25 new openings.

Members of the business community are attributing that growth to the recent investments and improvements made to Sackville Drive, the main commercial hub in the area.

Michelle Champniss Executive Director of the Sackville Business Association said many of the new businesses were “smaller, although there are several exceptions like Good Life and Giant Tiger,” Champniss said at a SBA meet and greet on Jan. 9.

“We’ve really seen big brand businesses coming to Sackville to set up shop, so it’s really increased confidence in the business district.”

Small, local companies have also put down roots including Burrito Jax, Battered Fish, and Nu Café.

The Sackville Business Association is what’s known as a business improvement district, or BID. Businesses within the district, in this case on Sackville Drive, pay an area rate to HRM, which is then transferred to the BID.

The BID’s job is to improve and promote the business area. There are many of these in HRM, including Downtown Halifax and Spring Garden Road.

One of the biggest threats to Sackville’s traditional clientele seems to be nearby business parks, where some chains formerly located on Sackville Drive, including Staples and Wal-Mart, have since moved.

“With new business parks being built right next to traditional downtowns or main streets, it does mean some businesses are moving to those locations,” Champniss said. “My hope is that in time it will work itself out as we figure out what’s the right fit for these areas.”

“We just need to make sure that as a municipality we don’t overextend ourselves as far as building new commercial areas when we already have an existing commercial area that’s supported by infrastructure,” she said. “If you keep trying to build downtowns everywhere, you’re going to get into trouble.”

Greg Estabrooks, Branch Manager at the Bank of Montreal on Sackville Drive hosted the morning’s meet and greet and said business is booming in the community.

“The most important factor for us is to get to know some business owners that we wouldn’t normally deal with,” Estabrooks said. “Through events like this we get to meet them and afterwards the conversations will often lead to other partnerships.”

“The business environment in Sackville is actually fairly robust right now because there’s a fair amount of development going on in Middle Sackville, so we’re certainly busy and feel confident about 2014,” he said.

Phyllis Mayo, Sackville sales associate with Remax Nova Scotia said improvements made along Sackville Drive have gone a long way.

“We’ve seen improvements in terms of frontages of buildings, the upkeep of Sackville Drive, having flowers on the street during the summer,” Mayo said. “It helps make Sackville a place that people want to come to.”

“Sackville is still a bedroom and having businesses that are more family focused, so we need to make sure people are getting the things they want, including play grounds and entertainment,” she said. “The ideal situation is when you don’t really need to leave Sackville, you can do it all here.”

Sackville Business Association meet and greets happen every month and give business owners a chance to chat, swap business cards, and develop relationships. A different Sackville business hosts each time.

“It’s an opportunity for our business members to get together, co-promote each other and just talk generally about what’s going on in the community,” Champniss said. “It’s a way to learn from other businesses, find out what trends are happening.””

Read the article by Colin Chisholm here.