The “a louer” sign in the commercial heart of Hudson has been an unfortunately common sight in recent years as business after business closed their doors. But there were hopeful signs this weekend that seemed to buck that trend.
First of all, the impressive storefront of the building once known as Leggs department store is again filled. Boutique Pure Art has moved their beautifully unique and colourful goods to the main window, and another retailer, 2 Barn Owls, are displaying their eclectic and trendy home decor items in the other. And then there’s a new poster out front announcing that a company called Main Kitchen is coming soon to set up shop. This is all very good news.
A block away up Cameron Road, the lovely window of Cakes par Haute Couture, with longstanding business Tutti Gourmet sharing the space, are helping the other businesses on that main artery into town attract customers — another piece of good news.
It’s pretty nice to see this fresh commercial activity percolating.
Because the question of how to revitalize Hudson’s ailing commercial core has long been the town’s enduring mystery. Even the reasons for its economic decline have proved difficult to identify.
Shifting demographics have accounted for some of the drop-off in Hudson’s commercial life, and the arrival of the big box stores in Vaudreuil has certainly taken a major bite. But there have been other frustrations, too, like the disconnect that seems to exist between those who govern the town and the merchants who have based their businesses in Hudson. And even those lines blur and divide.
Efforts to create an SDC (Societe de Developpment Commercial) to help boost the life of the town have snagged as much as moved ahead, while a second business organization, the Hudson Merchants Network, emerged last spring to create further complexity. But the frustrations seem to stay the same.
There are the headaches about better signage that emerge regularly. The big business tax hike last year still hurts. The construction of the new sewer infrastructure that disrupted traffic flow in the centre of town for extended periods of time didn’t help. The uncomfortable sense that there are those in Hudson who actually don’t want to draw crowds to the town to disturb its country calm cannot be dissipated. The many artists, musicians and writers who call Hudson home and who have tried to put together a cultural policy for the town (and thus be eligible to apply for grants, etc.) seem stalled as well.
So it was great this past weekend to see the newly-filled storefronts humming in the heart of the village. One of Hudson’s local bands, Happenstance, even released their second CD on Saturday, and it all seemed to add to a distantly-remembered feeling of optimism.
So could this be the moment when things turn around for Hudson? What more must be done?
What do you think Hudson needs to remake its village into a humming, viable commercial centre?