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What’s Up With Retail?

Rent, online shopping, regulations, and a higher minimum wage reduce the brick-and-mortar presence.

Omar Mughannam of Beauty Center faced a 30 percent rent increase at one location.

For local retailers, whose inventory costs are high and whose profits depend on foot traffic and fickle consumer demand, even small increases in rent can be difficult to bear. And when rent increases hit double digit percentages, owners are often forced to relocate to a more affordable space, consolidate multiple outlets, or close altogether.

Empty stores are everywhere, in Rockridge where Itsy Bitsy, Cotton Basics, Rockridge Home, and See Jane Run once seemed to thrive; in Elmwood where the corner of College and Ashby looks sparse without Jeremy’s, and in Montclair Village, too, where the local bike shop and Daisy’s are no more.