By Elizabeth Jacobs, For The Miami Student
Multiple empty storefronts scatter Uptown, some with the promise of “opening soon,” but in fact have been locked in that stage for nearly a year, sometimes more.
To the average student, it may appear that Oxford falters when it comes to maintaining businesses, even in high-trafficked areas like High Street.
However, that is not the case, according to Oxford economic development director, Alan Kyger.
“There is, in reality, a perception of empty locations, but they are locations that are not for rent,” Kyger said. “These locations are either rented already and beginning to be transformed into the businesses that rented them out, or they’re in the process of being torn down.”
He added that some storefronts are closed because construction is underway behind them.
“Even though what would be torn down in these instances is behind the visible storefronts, there can’t be functioning tenants in the front when the construction is underway,” he said.
In additions to these buildings, classified as “on hold,” businesses located on High Street also face financial struggles.
The cost of rent for Uptown businesses is too much for many owners who are just getting started, especially since many of Oxford’s bars, restaurants and shops are local, independent venues, according to Kyger.
Rent is likely the factor that drove Quiznos Subs out of Oxford, Kyger said.
“Quiznos isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be, and $15 per square foot is fairly high,” Kyger said.
Businesses in Oxford also have the struggle of an inconsistent business flow. As a college town where more than half the population is made up of students, Oxford businesses have to be strong enough to withstand the slow summer months.
This, historically, has not boded well for small startup or mom-and-pop businesses, Kyger said.
“Businesses in town are going to be businesses in the school year. We see lots of transitions in tenants in May and June,” Kyger said. “You’re always going to see some transition, especially in the mom-and-pop range because we’re basically an eight-month business cycle here.”
There is much to come for the future. Soon, the old Quiznos location (32 W. High St.) will become an Asian restaurant. In addition, there are plans to turn the old movie theatre, 10 N. Beech St., into a renovated, two-sided theatre with student housing above. The apartments will be available to rent fall 2016. Students also have some ideas of what should move in the remaining buildings.
First-year student Sam Dean said he feels that there are disproportionately more stores for women than for men Uptown.
“I would want to see more apparel stores for men come in, there’s really only ones for women right now. As far as restaurants go, I would love a new Italian place.”
Compared to the six Asian restaurants in Oxford, there is only one Italian restaurant, Paesano’s Pasta House.
Senior Mary Langenfeld also has some ideas for future businesses in Oxford.
“Maybe more clothing stores that aren’t $50 for a sweater.”
With the constant fluctuation of businesses in Oxford, they may see their proposed businesses in the future.