With Kingoff's Jewelers moving from it's downtown location there will be one more empty property on Front Street this fall. Other business owners in the area say it's part of a regular trend. “There are a lot of empty store fronts here, there always are, businesses come and go, retail establishments come and go,” said downtown business owner Meredith McCahan. John Hinnant of Wilmington Downtown, Inc. said the key to keeping downtown business alive is focusing on other stores just like Kingoff's. “What we've got to do is nurture the mom and pop and keep trying to attract small businesses downtown.” But business owners already located downtown say they're not getting the attention they deserve. “A lot of the other retail merchants may be following suit. We may be following Kingoff's and leaving downtown,” McCahan said. One major impact on the decision to stay or go is road improvements planned for the city's vision 2020. The necessary roadwork could put a big strain on business. “I've been real concerned that we're going to shutdown during the busy holiday shopping season,” Hinnant said. If retailers wait for the road repairs they could reap some big benefits. “It'll be a more attractive environment, more attractive for shoppers it will also be more attractive and inviting for investors,” Hinnant said. It's not a mass exodus for downtown businesses. Hinnant said Britt Motorsports has agreed to open a new clothing store at one of the vacant locations. Businesses have also expressed interest in other available spaces, but many of the buildings require landlord repairs before anyone can move in.
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