BERLIN – The beginning of 2018 will be marked by changes to several storefronts in downtown Berlin.
Businesses that have closed or will close in the coming weeks include Beez Kneez, PNC Bank, Inca Ruins and Nest. While it’s unusual to see so many shops close simultaneously in Berlin, officials say there’s little danger of commercial space staying vacant.
“It’s always sad to see businesses close but most of the time it’s due to retirement or other interests someone wants to pursue,” said Ivy Wells, the town’s economic development director. “I wish I had more space because I do have people waiting.”
While the PNC Bank building is currently for sale, Wells said plans were already in place for a number of the other vacant and soon-to-be vacant spaces. The space formerly occupied by the Bayside Gazette will be filled by Attics of My Life, a Selbyville furniture and home décor shop. Next door, numerous merchants are interested in taking over the space currently occupied by Nest. Owners of the building say the space will be leased to a retail establishment by February.
Nest owner Deborah Gilbert said the shop, which has operated in Berlin since 2010, would close at the end of the month. She plans to work from home so she can spend more time with her family. She said once Nest closed many of her handmade items would be available in Bruder Home.
Further north along Main Street, On What Grounds is expanding into the space formerly occupied by the Maryland Wine Bar, which has moved into Sisters.
Dana Gottloeb, who runs the coffee shop with his wife Denise, said the wine bar space would become seating for On What Grounds. He’s hoping renovations will be complete by the beginning of March.
“We’re going to be adding a perpetually changing menu of sweet and savory crepes,” Gottloeb said.
On Pitts Street, Wells said Inca Ruins would close at the end of the month and that Rainbow Florist, a former mainstay in Berlin, was expected to take over the space. Across the street, Wells said J&M Meat Market would expand into the storefront previously occupied by Beez Kneez Boutique.
Wells said she was thrilled to see existing businesses in town expanding. In addition, she pointed out that two women now owned multiple businesses in town. Shelly Bruder, who Wells said was thinking about selling her business a few years ago, now owns Bruder Hill and Bruder Home. Likewise Heidi Johnson now operates Main Street Sweets and J&M Meat Market.
While there are still more merchants who want to move to Berlin than there is space available, Wells hopes the addition of new retail space on Gay Street will help. Developer Patrick Vorsteg has spent the past two years working on a mixed-use project that will feature retail space on the ground floor and apartments on the second floor. Wells is hopeful that the building, which is still under construction, will be done by summer.
“The weather set them back quite a bit,” she said.