Small businesses feeling squeeze in downtown

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DETROIT – Downtown is changing and as the city rebuilds, some are wondering if there’s a place for small businesses in the busy district.

Tracy Garley opened Zarkpa’s Purses and Accessories originally in downtown.

“By me being one of the first retail storefronts, it was something people hadn’t seen in the past 15 years,” Garley said.

The boutique sold purses, jewelry, skin care items and clothing. As her business increased, so did her rent.

“I couldn’t pay so much for rent when I still had to by product, pay my lights and myself and my employees,” Garley said.

The downtown store now sits vacant. She relocated north to Woodward and Clairmount Avenues.

“Unfortunately, a lot is happening to a lot of business owners,” Garley said. “A lot of people are being kicked out because the rent being so high.”

The president of the Detroit Regional Chamber said despite what’s been happening in recent years, Detroit is still well below market rent rates.

“If we want to be a successful, vibrant region and an economically business district, we need to pay more market rent so we can have more market rate development,” Sandy Baruah said.