Hamilton’s main corridor to see changes after some businesses close

The main east-west corridor has seen some businesses close, but the vacancies won’t last, chamber of commerce president says.

Over the past few months, Hamilton’s business corridor along High and Main streets has changed as storefronts became available, some of them unexpectedly, with business closures.

While it’s “unfortunate when we lose a business” in Butler County’s county seat, Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Bates said it happens, and the recent changes in storefronts has happened for very different reasons.

“Sometimes it’s for personal reasons, and people have to make that personal decision because there are other priorities in their life that are higher than running that business, and I think we have to respect that,” he said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

That is the case with the most recent closure, which will happen at the end of March, or sooner, if someone comes in and buys all of the We Love It Too inventory, said owner Erin Robinson, who first opened her business several years ago at Bridgewater Falls before making the move to Hamilton.

“I’ve been fortunate to have had this experience, and Hamilton has supported us so much,” she said.

“I just feel that it’s my time to go on and move on and let something else great come into this space,” said Robinson, who said she’s retiring to spend more time with family, including a new grandbaby.

Though she said she’ll miss the new friends, customers and employees, and gets teary-eyed about the closure, Robinson said she’s “had this overwhelming pull to be with my family right now, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

But We Love It Too isn’t the only vacant storefront.

Just last month, Wildfire Hygge Goods + Home closed because the owner didn’t need two locations. Owner Sarah Dankhoff made the business decision to consolidate everything into her location on North Second Street because Hamilton is different than it was two years ago and can support a business not on the main drag.

Dankhoff told the Journal-News in January that in 2024, businesses don’t need to have the wind from High and Main streets under their wings to see success.

High and Main streets will see two things as 2024 begins with storefronts opening, Bates said. There will be a “next man up” mentality ― a term commonly used in sports indicating bench players will need to rise to the occasion when a starter is injured ― but there will also be an evolution of the corridor.

“I think you’re going to see more direction in things people never thought would be here,” said Bates.

While he said he’s had some discussions with potential business owners, he said he cannot share those conversations at this time.

The storefront closures are not a reflection on Hamilton, Bates said, as all closed for vastly different reasons.

Other vacancies along the corridor include the Village Parlor, an ice cream shop that didn’t have the success in Hamilton as its main store in Lebanon, and Rustic Home, which closed for personal issues.

“There’s still a lot of people that want to be in Hamilton,” said Bates. “There are multiple established business and entrepreneurs that are very interested in being in Hamilton.”

High Street will see a new wine bar, Caio Vino, open later this year next to ArtSpace.

And if Robinson didn’t have the pull to be with her growing family, We Love It Too would likely be in Hamilton beyond March, as she said, “I can’t say enough how thankful I am to my customers and Hamilton.”

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