A fine balance
They say the only constants in life are change and beer.
Well, they say something like that.
The Beer Store recently announced it will be moving its Minden location from Water Street, where it’s been for the past 34 years, to a new building along Highway 35.
This has caused concern among residents, many posting their worry on social media that the relocation of the beverage provider spells the beginning of the end for Minden’s downtown.
This concern is not unwarranted. Certainly the Beer Store and its sister, the LCBO, draw people into the village’s core. It is possible, likely, even, that some seasonal residents, now able to pick up their beer directly beside the grocery store along the highway, will not even bother swinging into the downtown on their way to the cottage. Perhaps rather than a burger or ice cream cone down by the river, this stopover will now include a trip to Dairy Queen, also conveniently located along the highway.
Minden’s downtown is changing. This is true. But in the same way downtowns in other communities have changed in the past.
Look at many Ontario towns, most even, and you’ll notice a difference between the businesses located along their Main Street strips and the ones located in outskirts or along their bypasses.
While chains and big-box stores tend to dot the peripheries, the downtown strips are often filled with smaller, independent, boutique-style businesses.
Think Sassy Digs. Stores like that can be a draw, too.
This phenomenon has been happening in Minden for years, the grocery stores moving to Highway 35 and chains and franchises popping up along the corridor.
In very recent years in Port Perry and Lindsay, the LCBO has closed small, older downtown locations, moving its operations to larger, modern buildings further from the core.
With new commercial spaces being constructed along Highway 35, it’s highly likely that before long, the LCBO will follow the Beer Store’s lead in Minden.
And while this reality may pose challenges, it also offers opportunities.
What, for instance, will end up at the soon-to-be former Beer Store location along Water Street? With a stunning view of the river, it would sure make an ideal location for a restaurant . . .
And there are other ways to draw people into the downtown, businesses aside.
This summer was the first year the Haliburton County Farmers’ Market hosted a market in Minden, something which will continue next season. The township also hosted an artisans’ market at the cultural centre.
Experimenting with programming at the cultural centre is another way to bring people downtown. Getting people “across the bridge” is a way to ensure they’ll see all the downtown has to offer.
The lawn at the cultural centre is large enough to facilitate a music-in-the-park-type concert series, for example.
It may require a different way of thinking, but there’s no reason Minden can’t have its beer and drink it too.