Northampton’s changing economy forcing some businesses to close

22News spoke with store owners and residents about this change

The facade of the former Spoleto Restaurant in downtown Northampton is seen here in a WWLP file image from 2016.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Main Street, Northampton is known for its shops and restaurants, but now, more than a dozen store fronts are empty, like the former Subway and Hempest.

Others are also getting ready to close their doors, like Sip Café, who are closing Saturday because of “high labor costs.”

There are 14 different stores all along Main Street that are vacant. Mayor David Narkewicz told 22News that each vacancy has a story, but he’s working to make sure that they’re all filled.

“You’re surprised and obviously you don’t want to see anyone go out of business,” said Keith Hazel, the Shop Therapy owner’s son.

Shop Therapy has called Main Street home for 3 years. Over the last few months, they’ve watched Subway and Hempest close on either side. Hazel said, “It’s pretty upsetting to see people who are working hard. You know, how can they hold a job, get paid minimum wage and afford to live?”

Mandy Cepeda of Springfield said, “There is tradition that is maintained. There’s more heart that goes into the work that is done or the product that is sold.”

Mayor Narkewicz said the city’s low commercial tax rate will keep businesses and attract visitors to downtown Northampton. Other stores like Haymarket Cafe are adjusting their service to make sure their employees are paid and their doors stay open.

What’s behind all the vacant storefronts in Northampton?

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