Two Grandin businesses losing their space after leases not renewed

By Rob Manch - Reporter

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - People living in Grandin say stores like Urban Gypsy and New To Me are what make the neighborhood so unique.

That's why dozens were up in arms Tuesday night voicing their frustration after learning those two shops are having to find a new home.

The main reason is because people are learning the plan to replace those stores is to put in "high end office space".

That comes from the new owners, the Roanoke Business Hub, but many fear that will decrease foot traffic in Grandin's vibrant business district, starting off a chain reaction with the result of everyone losing customers.

Grandin is a unique part of the City of Roanoke.

People who live here say stores like Urban Gypsy and New To Me are part of the reason why.

"I would not be down here every week if it were not for this shop," said New To Me customer Mary Freedman.

That's why when they learned those mainstays might be threatened, dozens turned out in support.

Urban Gypsy owner Ashley Shaffner says she wasn't surprised to see the turnout at Taaza restaurant Tuesday.

"We love the community just as much as we've found out that they love us, so it's a family," said Shaffner.

Shaffner and new to me owner Jenny Prickett say learning their leases weren't going to be renewed after years of operating in Grandin was crushing, and it effects everyone.

"Thinking about taking two retail businesses and just turning it into an office hub would change the dynamic tremendously," said Prickett.

"It's like a domino effect. What effects one person effects the whole village," said Shaffner.

Prickett says the whole community is now trying to understand just what that domino effect might look like.

"You wouldn't maybe come to the restaurants during the day or shopping during the day because those shops aren't there anymore, and it would just really affect the whole community as a whole," said Prickett.

Another store owner, Stratton Delany, says he doesn't want to see that happen.

He's made tee shirts to show Shaffner and Prickett they have support.

"We really would like to see these businesses stay in the neighborhood, stay on the street, and we'd like to keep more retail on the street, because that's really the heartbeat of the neighborhood," said Delany.

Shaffner says through it all, she's staying positive about her store's future.

"If we have to reconsider relocating, we absolutely will, but we are not closing," said Shaffner.

But Prickett says, she hopes it won't come to that.

"We will need to be open-minded in what is in store for us will be, but we hope it is to stay where we are and not have to move," said Prickett.

The Business Association announced Tuesday the new owners of the building were invited, but are out of town and couldn't attend the meeting.

Shaffner and Prickett say they have yet to sit down and actually do some of that negotiating with the new owners, but say they don't hold any ill will.

They just hope the end result will allow them to remain in the part of town they call home.

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