After 17 years, the owner of Jaz Hair Studio on Church Street has packed up his blow dryer and scissors and closed up shop.
Jodi Thibodeau says he decided not to renew the lease at 583 Church St. The shop closed last month. “Business wasn’t that great. It was tough to keep staff, and the clients weren’t coming in like they used to. We also had leasing issues.
“It’s sad. It’s like saying goodbye to my baby. It’s been such a big part of my life.”
Thibodeau says the Village has changed considerably since he first opened his shop. There’s less foot traffic and more competition. Plus, customers don’t seem to make the extra effort to support gay-owned and independent businesses like they used to.
“When we moved in here, the neighbourhood seemed more vibrant,” he says. “There’s not as many people walking around in this area, and it just hasn’t felt the same lately.”
“There’s so many restaurants and businesses on Church Street that open, then close, then another opens up. Having a gay village doesn’t seem as important for people as it used to be. I think gay people have spread out, which is great, but Church Street isn’t where people have to go now to be themselves, to feel safe.”
Meanwhile, further south, Regal Restaurant, at 491 Church St, has closed. Regal moved in last year after the Mediterranean-style Chi-Ko-Roo restaurant, which opened in 2010, closed.
The only people on site when Xtra visited recently were a couple contractors who were working inside. Neither had any details about the next eatery, set to open “very soon,” they said.