Published Dec. 29, 2009
The story: Local independent businesses drop like flies as the downturn in the economy takes hold.
What next? The picture for local retailers and restauranteurs isn’t looking any prettier now than it was before the summer. The 1.7 million square feet of empty retail space that could be found in Sarasota and Manatee counties has grown to an estimated 2.3 million square feet. (In the second quarter of 2008, that number was 1.1 million square feet.) According to reports by the Bradenton Herald, retail vacancy rates in the Sarasota/Bradenton area increased to 13.3 percent in the third quarter of 2009, up from 6.9 percent in the second quarter of 2008. While some of the storefronts we mentioned, like the space where O’Malley’s was housed, have now found new occupants, others, like the former home of Phasion with Pashion, still sit barren.