Those who haven't been to downtown Kamloops in a while may want to take another look. A recent spate of changes is keeping things fresh in the heart of the city.
A handful of new retailers have opened up shop in the neighbourhood, and so far, they've been thrilled with the area.
"It's good foot traffic and we're already quite busy," said Michael Horner, co-owner of The Bench Jewellery and Repair on Fourth Avenue, which opened on Aug. 1.
The family business moved to Kamloops from 100 Mile House believing its unique business model would appeal to locals.
They offer very little retail inventory, focusing instead of custom designs, which they've hired Kamloops-born goldsmith Robert Popil to create.
The densely populated 300 block of Victoria is now home to Exposure Photography, which features five top Kamloops photographers on its walls and, for a fee, lets other local photographers meet with clients in the store and use its portrait studio.
The idea is to create a photographer community in the city, and the shop had to be downtown to fulfil that vision, said co-owner Sara Schneider.
"We wanted to make it accessible to people walking by," said Schneider. "We would really like to see people going back to hiring their photographers by looking at portfolios in print."
Sushi Tokyo, a new all-you-can-eat restaurant, also chose to set up shop in the 300 block of Victoria Street.
And Two Dz Boutique has planned a move downtown from its Tranquille Road location.
Some businesses have also left.
The popular knick-knack store Frou Frou Monkey decamped in the spring when owner Margo Matheson decided to wind down and go entirely online.
Fudge Yeah in the 400 block of Victoria Street left. Co-owner Ernie Ware said the lack of foot traffic precipitated the decision. He has no concrete plans, he said, but may switch to a home-based business.
Café Fresh is also no longer operating along with Quattro restaurant on Fourth Avenue and Cuz I'm Magic.
Gay Pooler, president of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, said it's not uncommon for small business centres to undergo such changes and that's a good thing since it keeps things fresh.
The downtown also boasts several anchor tenants, however, that keep things stable and ensure return business.
The area has long held appeal for entrepreneurs and the results of a survey undertaken during the B.C. Business Improvement Association AGM last winter may reveal why.
"The one thing that came up the absolute most was how friendly and helpful all the merchants were. They were just blown away," said Pooler.
The changing landscape may also reflect an increasing confidence among small businesses.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business's short-term full-time hiring plans were more positive than usual in B.C. with 22 per cent of questionnaire respondents expecting to add staff, contrasting with only eight per cent looking to trim down.
However, according to the CFIB, tax and regulatory costs remain the top constraint on businesses with 67 per cent being concerned over it — the highest level in the country.
The August 2013 findings are based on 1,018 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members.