Gentrification, construction and lack of parking closing St-Henri clothing store

Road construction, high taxes and gentrification are closing a family run business in Saint-Henri, the owner says.

Robert Aboud's father opened the Liberal clothing store on Notre-Dame St. 78 years ago. But on Tuesday, Aboud said he was liquidating what was left on the floor, and closing up shop.

He blames road construction for a decline in business. The city invested $80 million to revitalize the neighbourhood: widening sidewalks, installing benches--but the long construction period drove Aboud's customers away, he said.

"Big change for me was the road construction when they dug up the street for two years," he said. "It was huge. Nobody could come; nobody could come to the area; there was no traffic."

When construction finished, wide sidewalks took up space for parking. Gentrification also took its toll. Older clientele preferred Aboud's low-cost clothing store, but many newer Saint-Henri residents shopped elsewhere.

"They killed my business and made sidewalks that are way too big, benches that don't do anything at all--they killed my business. Eighty percent of my customers complain there's no place to park," he said.

Gentrification is evident in on the stretch of Notre-Dame St. West of Atwater Ave.: new stores and restaurants have opened, but many in the area are sad to see Liberal close.

Aboud blames the city for his business woes. But Mayor Valerie Plante said Montreal couldn't take all the blame.

"I think it's important to keep in mind that the habits of consumers are changing. Electronic commerce has a huge impact," she said.  

With files from CTV Montreal's Stephane Giroux