Yet another shop is set to depart Harvard Square as multiple construction projects, drops in foot traffic, and high rents squeeze independent businesses.
Cambridge Artists’ Cooperative has seen less foot traffic over the past couple of years, according to President Beverley Coniglio. That decrease has made the square’s high rent less feasible and upcoming construction projects more daunting, she explains.
“We just feel like we need to be in a new space so that we can get the customers back and not pay such a high rate,” she says. “We’re really sad to leave—we really don’t want to leave.”
The Cambridge Artists’ Cooperative, which is largely run by volunteers, features artwork from over 200 artists and has been in Harvard for 31 years.
The coop aims to relocate to Central or Porter Square, and has launched a GoFundMe to help with moving costs. The $30,000 goal would cover building out a new space, legal fees, marketing costs, hiring a moving company, and more.
“Once we started adding up the lawyer fees, the moving costs, we realized, ‘Oh my god, we can’t do this on our own,'” Coniglio says.
The Cambridge Artists’ Cooperative’s lease at 59A Church Street ends on June 30, and Coniglio anticipates there will be a gap before a new lease would begin.
“That’s why we’re so nervous and panicked, because there is going to be some downtime,” she says. “Not just because of sales—because we want to keep our image alive with people.”
Crema Cafe, John Harvard’s Brewery & Alehouse, and Tealuxe are among the businesses that have closed in recent months, while The World’s Only Curious George Store is relocating to Central Square.
The business vacancy rate in Harvard Square is at 11 percent, the Boston Globe reports. The citywide vacancy rate for the first quarter of 2019 was 2.2 percent, according to Director of Economic Development Lisa Hemmerle.