Seattle still losing small businesses to economic crunch

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by NATALIE SWABY / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on January 19, 2011 at 9:29 AM

SEATTLE -- The empty storefronts and the "For Lease" signs can be seen every day as you drive through Seattle.

Gemma Santa Maria says her family fought hard not to join the small businesses closing their doors. Recently though, they realized they could not afford to keep their store, The Phinney Market, any longer.  

"It has been a struggle for two years. It's been so hard. It's been hard for my family. It's been hard for our jobs. In the end the numbers just didn't add up and we just can't make it work," says Santa Maria. 

Santa Maria says it is hard to say goodbye to co-workers, customers, and the family's dream. The Phinney Market opened in 2009, a very tough year for business.

Mary Lyell-Larsen is the Vice President of Data Services for the Commercial Brokers Association. She crunches numbers about Seattle's commercial real estate market. She says 2009 was the worst year for tenants and landlords.

"We saw the slowest year we have ever seen in terms of sales in 2009," says Lyell-Larsen

Lyell-Larsen says based on her data, she is seeing bigger retail spaces fill up faster than smaller sites.

In 2010 retail sales were up by 20 percent according to Lyell-Larsen, but an increase in distress sales factors in to that upswing.

When it comes to seeing the commercial real estate market's recovery, Lyell-Larsen says in Seattle more time is needed.

"If you had talked to me a year ago, we would have said now. Talking now, I think it is going to see another year. Looking at the numbers and how they are slowly getting better, I would say we are probably looking at 2012," says Lyell-Larsen.

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