Fresno's Tower District hit hard by business closures

FRESNO, California Customers were heart-broken to hear Meg Smith was closing down her Ancient Pathways knitting shop. The tight economy left Smith with no other choice.

Smith explained, "This is a luxury. About the last three years things have steadily gone downhill no matter what I've done. We've done a lot of marketing."

For twelve years, yarn has literally been the fabric weaving this community together. Shop regulars make up what they call the "Twisted Tuesday" group. It's become more of a support group.

Minette Marcelli of Fresno said, "I cried because it's just really sad. I think the economy is bad and that's part of it and also there's a lot of yarn being purchased on-line."

Two doors down Silva Designs recently closed. The salon served the Tower District for over 16 years but has consolidated its business in River Park.

Tower District Marketing Director Bill Kuebler said, "We never like losing businesses, especially long-standing businesses. We're really a family down here."

Vintage clothing retailer Retro Rag also closed after being a Tower District mainstay for about 20 years.

Kuebler said, "It's not entirely a surprise because they've been doing a lot of their business I understand on the internet."

The Tower District has always relied on pedestrian traffic so the loss of one business can directly affect another.

Smith said, "It's painful. Tower's mostly small business people. This is their life."

Meg Smith said June 5th won't be the last time she does business in the Tower. She insisted, "I'll open up the store again when the economy comes back."

Bill Kuebler said the entrepreneurial spirit remains strong in the Tower. Once a spot opens up, he says dozens of people inquire about opening a new business.

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