PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Things are getting tougher for small business owners on the South Side.
Take a walk down Carson Street on the South Side and you’ll see many storefronts with “For Sale,” “For Rent,” and “Closed” signs.
One life-long resident decided to count the signs on her way to work.
“A total of 51 empty storefronts,” said Debbie Malanoski.
Malanoski grew up on 27th Street and she posted to Facebook, saying she’s frustrated by the closed storefronts.
“That’s pretty sad to see that especially because when I was a little girl here, we had a bakery, a butcher, a restaurant,” Malanoski said.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller talked to several business owners about why they’re closing up shop.
“I feel bad about leaving because I’m the last floral shop here in the South Side,” said Cyril Esser, owner, Cindy Esser’s Floral Shop.
He opened his flower shop with his late wife, Cindy, more than 40 years ago.
He said he’s survived a lot of turnover in the neighborhood.
“When we moved here, most of this section of the neighborhood was boarded up,” said Esser.
He believes the area will revitalize again because he’s watched it happen before.
He also said he’s delayed retiring because he feels a sense of responsibility to the area.
“Absolutely, and I’ve struggled with it for the last couple years now, but it’s time for me,” Esser said.
At one time, more than 12 flower shops called Carson Street home.
When he closes his doors this summer, there will be none left. The Chamber of Commerce has asked him multiple times to reconsider, but he wants to enjoy retirement with his new life partner.
Down on 24th Street, the last steel mill-era bar and restaurant on the South Side closed for good this weekend.
“It’s weird, it feels like we’ve had a death in the family,” said AJ Szalla, Green Front Inn.
The “For Sale” sign is already on the side of the restaurant and there’s a handwritten sign on the door: “Thank you, South Side. Love, The Green Front Inn.”
“One thing we take pride in it’s a part of old Side Side,” said Szalla. “A lot of people want to point fingers on what exactly caused it. ‘What’s going on with South Side businesses?’ and whatnot. But for us and for my family, 40 years is a really long time and we just knew right now made sense.”
Now the restaurant’s empty storefront on Carson and 24th will join the list.
Across the street at the family-owned store “The Pretzel Shop,” most customers complain about parking.
“A lot has to do with the way the parking is, with the kiosks they have now, they’re a little bit harder for some people,” said Jaimy Gallagher of The Pretzel Shop.
A few years ago, business owners counted more than 100 closed storefronts. But the goal is to have just a handful.
The South Side Chamber of Commerce is hosting a meeting on Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. to discuss crime statistics and continue to brainstorm ways to attract and keep businesses along the valuable stretch.