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New businesses moving into downtown San Luis Obispo

downtown slo sidewalk.PNG
Posted at 11:12 AM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 14:12:46-04

Some residents have noticed downtown San Luis Obispo looks slightly different than it did more than a year ago at the beginning of the pandemic.

Businesses in downtown San Luis Obispo are opening at full capacity once again and new stores are moving in.

"I love this town. I think it's a very cute, wonderful town," said Richard Gazowsky, a pastor on assignment in San Luis Obispo.

Gazowsky has been on assignment in San Luis Obispo for more than a year and says he noticed several small businesses shut down during the pandemic.

Neal Ryan plays music at the downtown bars and says he's noticed a change in the downtown storefronts as well.

"Some of the other restaurants are closing and some have even gone out of business so hopefully it comes back and thrives," Ryan said.

Instead of closing down permanently, some businesses have decided to shift their hours, only staying open during the most profitable times.

"I see signs sometimes and they say like we used to be open all week but now we're just like Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or something," Ryan said.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, we really thought that there were going to be a lot of businesses that would permanently close their doors, and here in San Luis Obispo that really hasn't been the case," said Bettina Swigger, CEO of Downtown SLO.

Swigger, says the businesses that have closed during the pandemic were primarily due to the owners retiring. In terms of closures, she says downtown San Luis Obispo is doing quite well.

"I think the first change that you can see if you haven't been downtown for a while is the changes that have come to the physical environment," Swigger said.

Swigger says things like parklets and new businesses opening up throughout the summer downtown have helped it continue to recover from the pandemic. They've seen an influx of new businesses lately, dropping the vacancy rate from 12 percent to just over 8 percent in the last four months.

"We've seen about 12 businesses open in the last couple of months and we have more that are going to be opening their doors soon," Swigger said.

She says they are continuing to add new businesses in the downtown area every week.