For shoppers strolling downtown Stettler, they will definitely see that the face of business continues to change.
Like a revolving door, it seems every week that a business opens, closes or relocates, expands or makes other significant renovations or changes.
One vacant building makes way for another entrepreneurial opportunity.
Since I first arrived in Stettler in March 2008, I have noticed that at least 60 per cent of the business properties on Main Street have changed, from new buildings in the north end, to buildings demolished, and many other businesses coming and going.
For those businesses that have remained the same, I could probably count them on just two hands.
While it might be sad for people to see longtime businesses close, it also indicates that times and consumers’ needs and demands change and businesses are responding to that.
As I was walking downtown earlier this week, I stopped to chat with a business owner who was standing outside his premises and I mentioned these changes to him.
He chuckled that it keeps the shoppers guessing where a business will be located and what businesses are opening or closing.
Like it’s healthy for a business to change its layout and product lines, every so many years, he suggested it’s good for a downtown to change businesses, to give it a fresh and different look.
Otherwise, it could just be the same old, same old.
In the south end, both grocery stores have completed renovations and one even changed its name.
When the number of vacant buildings grows or they remain unoccupied for many months or even years, that’s when it becomes unhealthy for the community.
While many small-town communities struggle to keep downtown business premises occupied, Stettler remains the economical and shopping hub of east-central Alberta.
Farther outside the downtown area, many other businesses have opened, relocated or changed, with more on the way along the highly-travelled Highway 12, particularly on the western entrance of town.
For those who live in the same community for most of their lives, it might sometimes feel that not much is changing in businesses.
But, just look back, five, 10 or 20 years ago.
That picture can only ensure that the Stettler community remains strong for a sustainable future and continues to attract more businesses and residents.
Richard Froese is a municipal reporter with the Stettler Independent. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org