President of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce, Cindy Johnson, says, "It's very difficult for small businesses in this economic environment, it's actually very difficult for small businesses overall"
Downtown Grand Island's Uniquely You's owner did not want to comment publicly on why her store had to close down.
Craig Hand, President of Howard's Jewelry Downtown, says, "Well, we hate to see them go. New retail establishments are something we like to encourage Downtown. It gives it a little more of a home atmosphere, and it is a lot of work."
"I am disappointed to hear that", says Lois Nielsen, Co-Owner of Milestone Gallery, "I didn't realize that she had closed. I had purchased things there for our grandchildren and I know they had a high end children's store, My family enjoyed those different types of toys too."
Family means much more to these business owners that count on one an other for many things.
Hand says, "When The Grand needed saving, a lot of us got together and we've really become quite close, a lot of us Downtown. We really see each other a lot at The Grand, working there and it's a lot more of a family atmosphere than it used to be."
Cindy Johnson adds, "One of the unique characteristics, of a Downtown is that the business owners and business leaders are quite close knit. They rely on each other for expertise and assistance, the new property owners or business owners are often welcomed in and welcomed by the existing businesses who then provide leadership or support or advice or suggestions for a small business."
As for the future, Hand says, "I'm sorry to see them go, but I hope we have somebody that can come down and is successful next time, it's always a shoot of the dice when you open a small business."
UPDATE: 4/25/2012 7:21 PM
Grand Island shop owners say the business of starting a small business is more than a full-time job, but when it comes to creating a business in Downtown Grand Island, there are certain ways to be successful.
Craig Hand, president of Howard's Jewelry, is someone who knows how and why he has run a successful business.
Hand says, "We're doing quite well, actually the last two years were the best two financial years I've ever had and we've been here since 1947. So, it's been very good. It's easier for us now than it is for some of the new businesses coming in because we've been here so long and we've established a clientele. So, what you have to do with a small business is give people a reason to find you, especially if you're Downtown. It's not like they're walking in the mall and they find you by accident. So you have to be a destination store. You have to offer them something to come here for."
Milestone Gallery Co-owner, Lois Nielsen, believes everyone in Downtown Grand Island has come about their success in different ways.
Nielsen says, "I think we all have an emphasis, the malls are very different. We are single owner in the shop. And there are several of us around, I think everybody has their unique niche."
And while everyone may have their own unique way of finding success, Hand sees the area as a place for business owners and the community to enjoy.
"I would like to see it as a business center," says Hand, "I'd like offices down here, retail shops, cafes...things like that. That's the kind of thing that makes it a pleasure to come down and stroll the streets of Grand Island."
And Chamber officials say those people strolling the streets know what they are looking for in a business.
Cindy Johnson, Chamber of Commerce President, says, "Customers are looking at price points, they're looking at merchandising selection. They're looking at convenience and accessibility. So stores have to be open when individuals want to shop. And all of those things together make it challenging. Not impossible, but very challenging for small businesses."