BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - The economy is taking a toll in downtown Beaufort. Kathleen's Restaurant recently shut its doors and now the longtime bookstore, The Bay Street Trading Company, is preparing to do the same.
"The Bay Street Trading Company was such an institution in Beaufort," said Lisa Mykelby, owner of M's Home and Garden.
"It's an old establishment and it's sad to see it go," said Elizabeth Maybank. "They had the best selections and they had authors come in for signings, you could always find good lowcountry stuff."
Mykelby's shop is across the street from Bay Street Trading Co. and is concerned this could become a bigger problem.
"That really casts sort of a pallor over town, it makes everyone really nervous," said Mykelby. "Things are tight for us. We're going to be fine but I know everyone is nervous, very nervous."
"A little bit afraid of what's going on here," said Maggie Angstrom, who owns Sweet Bay Inc. "We're devastated that the books store is closing and I'd like to see every store filled."
Especially with the old Lipsitz store vacant on Bay Street as well.
"I don't like to see an empty building," said Angstrom. "I really don't, it's not good."
While the economy is certainly playing a part, Angstrom says the new parking system isn't helping.
"We opened in February and already since the new parking has been implemented we're seeing a great change in the number of people especially the local people coming to downtown," said Angstrom.
While downtown merchants count on tourists, they say they need support from local shoppers to help keep their doors open.
"We need consistency," said Mykelby. "We really hope everyone will really make an effort and try to support the businesses the best they can, instead of running to Target for a birthday gift, if they could run downtown for a birthday gift."
She and other downtown merchants are doing all they can to keep locals coming back.
"I have sort of taken the economy into mind and have tried to make selections that are much easier price points that I would have in the past," said Mykelby.
Main Street Beaufort is starting an advertising campaign to attract local and regional shoppers to downtown.