More Small Businesses In East Bay Closing Down

OAKLAND (KCBS) – The weak economy and a proliferation of chain and box stores has made life difficult for owners of mom-and-pop shops in the Bay Area, as many struggle to survive.

KCBS reporter Doug Sovern found out firsthand, traveling around the East Bay trying to find a place to make a copy of keys.

He tried Elmwood Hardware in Berkeley, Glenview Hardware on Park Boulevard in Oakland and finally Montclair Village Hardware with no luck as all three have either shuttered or moved spots.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

“This is across the country. If you travel, all of the small, little towns that used to be vibrant are losing these kinds of services that we want and that people need in the neighborhood,” said longtime Oakland resident Ann Woodell.

Woodell has lived in Oakland’s Montclair District for almost 50 years. And now, all she sees are vacant storefronts, one after another.

One of her neighbors, Gail, said part of the problem: the store’s customers are also going away.

“I just think that people go to the bigger box stores. They can get everything there,” she said. “So people aren’t going as much to local stores. It’s harder to survive when the rents are going up as well.”

The higher rents are what drove Montclair Hardware to move to the quiet Woodminster area.

“The property owner decided to increase our rent exponentially. We were barely making it before that,” said John, who works at the store.

He said the new location is less expensive, but also less traveled. More and more customers are going to places like Home Depot, which John calls the “orange evil empire.” Pretty soon he said, neighborhood spots like Montclair Hardware could be gone for good.

“There aren’t that many people that want to try and make a go of (running) a small business,” he said. “Or can get the loans at this point to start up a small business.”

Which would be a sad day for many of these businesses’ loyal customer base.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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