The statistics are fickle; one day the economy seems to be improving and the next we hear stories of it slowing down. In Panama City, we have both; a revitalized downtown that somehow includes stores going out of business.
There's an old saying, you never know what you have till it's gone. This could not be truer for Georgian interiors, a small furniture store off Harrison Avenue. "I've seen a lot of businesses come and go in the last 9 years."
Rebecca Daffin will join that group on Saturday when she shuts off the lights one last time. "I did try to hang on for as long as I could and then just finally made the decision."
The business saw preliminary success when Daffin opened her doors 8 years ago; she loved the atmosphere and charm of Downtown Panama City. But in 2008, things started to change. "At the end of the year, we saw a little slump." Daffin says.
Coupled with the BP oil spill and the recession, you're looking at a number of tough years ahead. "The time constraints on retail, the demand on small business person, we never had the resources to hire a full staff. It is very hard to be a small business person." Daffin adds and she is not alone.
"The downtown has suffered because of the economy and because it lost retail foot traffic. It's a tough economy, you know we are not out of the woods yet and our goal is to rack up more wins than losses." CRA Director, William Whitson says.
But as a past member of the Downtown Improvement Board and various stakeholder committees, Daffin says she doesn't think resources were managed correctly.
"I have to say that I have been a little frustrated with some of the directions we've taken and a lot of the diversion there was with the homeless." Daffin suggests the need for a hotel, one that could attract tourist to the many restaurants and shops in the area.
Georgian Interiors will remain open through Saturday. Their hours are as follows: