The State of… Lower Princess (Part 1 of 3)

Princess Street, lower Princess, downtown core, vacant stores, opening soon, Kingston, OntarioWith this week’s announcement that Downtown Kingston Sports is set to close up shop after 112 years of dutiful service, the Limestone City’s core is set to lose another iconic fixture.  In this case, high taxes, the recession, as well as competition from big box outlets and online competitors, are to blame.  While this sad story is truly unique, empty storefronts have become all too common in the past few years.  With that in mind, Kingstonist set out to document vacancies, as well as recent relocations and additions in a multi-part series that will focus on various sections of the downtown.  In this premier episode, we’ll travel from the very bottom of Princess Street to the Division Street intersection.

Recent Closures and Vacancies

  • S&R Department Store, 27 Princess Street: a 3-storey department store that sold everything from sporting goods to clothes, hardware, and toys.  The elevator made its last stop in the Summer of ’09.
  • Ben and Jerry’s, 66 Princess Street: hard to believe that this popular purveyor of frozen treats closed, but we also love what took its place.  Plus, you can always get their flavours at grocery and corner stores.
  • The Jungle (Old Location), 123 Princess Street: not overly sure why they decided to relocate, but the new location has a tarp-like sign, which looks a bit less charming than the original location.
  • Chameleon Nation, 112 Princess Street: this art gallery abruptly closed their doors after being evicted by the landlord, DTZ.  DTZ went on to post a notice in the store window, which cited months of owed rent.
  • Downtown Kingston Sports, 121 Princess Street: 2-storeys of sporting goods, Vespas, and an unrivalled bike shop that will be sorely missed.  Be sure to check out their going out of business sale tomorrow.
  • The Book Shop, 122 Princess: how can the little guy compete with the likes of Chapters/Indigo/Coles, and online giants such as Amazon?  Kingston has other independent book shops, but for how long?
  • Fabricland, 124 Princess Street: seamstresses and quilters nearly had a coronary when this place closed, but thankfully they still maintain a location in a stripmall on Gardiners and Bath.
  • Copy Express, 127 Princess Street: Who doesn’t own a printer/scanner/fax machine these days?  Otherwise, doesn’t Staples have this market covered with their 24-hour Copy Centre?
  • 501 Arcade, 173 and 175 Princess Street: from steamed hot dogs to Mortal Kombat and Time Crisis, I honestly couldn’t count all the quarters I gladly spent here.  Home gaming systems killed the arcade star.
  • The Dollar Club, 185 Princess Street: we have more than enough discount stores in this city.
  • The Body Shop, 238 Princess Street: hair, skin, bath and fragrances galore.  A surprising closure, but they’ve remained in Kingston with their other location at the Cataraqui Town Centre.
  • Quizinos Sub Shop, 269 Princess Street: with the novelty of toasted subs on the decline, this distributor simply couldn’t cut the mustard.  Quizinos still remains strong with locations in two box-like strip malls.
  • 297, 297 Princess Street: say it with me now, I will not pay $200 for a pair of jeans.
  • The Carriage Way, 324 Princess Street: a DIY haven selling beads, and other jewelry components.
  • Canada Computers (Old Location), 350 Princess Street: relocated to a much larger location, which is less than a block away.  That was about 2 years ago, and nothing has moved in to take its place.
  • Laundromat (Name Unknown), 349 Princess Street: this store front has been vacant for so long I had to really think about what used to be there.  In any case, I guess we have enough laundromats downtown.
  • Chumleighs (Old Location), 346 Princess Street: as charming as their original, downtown location was, I honestly prefer their new spot.  It’s the mecca for used CDs, DVDs and games and gaming systems.
  • Cyclepath, 354 Princess Street: In light of Downtown Kingston Sports’ closure, we’re lucky this place moved and didn’t close entirely.  Nowadays the old location is the temporary home to the Volunteer Police Association.

Recent Additions and Relocations

  • Sima Sushi, 66 Princess Street: in the words of Barnie Gumble, “suck it to my veins.” If you’ve never had sushi, or don’t think you like it, you have to try this place out.  Yummi-ness will make you a believer.
  • Chumleighs (New Location), 103 Princess Street: see above.
  • The Jungle (New Location), 107 Princess Street: see above.
  • Taj Curry House, 125 Princess Street: while the closure of Curry Village was not mentioned above, we’re glad to see another curry resto open up to fill the void.  Newly renovated and now open for business.
  • The Sustainability Centre, 193 Princess Street: the successor to The Card Merchant is a place where you can learn all about Kingston’s sustainable businesses.  Go check out the neat installations inside.
  • Urban Outfitters, 207 Princess Street: although this place isn’t brand new, I’ve included it on the list as it’s presence was more than welcomed.  It filled the long standing void left by the relocation of RBC.
  • La Maison d’Eva, 208 Princess Street: when La Cache filed for bankruptcy protection, it wasn’t long before they pulled out of Kingston.  The new purveyor of brassieres and lacy unmentionables is great, but often empty. Can they outlast the competition coming from the malls, big boxes and online?
  • Silverside, 219 Princess Street: designer Canadian jewellery and trendy sterling-forged fashions.
  • Red Maple, 227 Princess Street: clothing and other items inspired by the Great White North.
  • Vinny’s Italian Sandwiches, 292 Princess Street: just because Quizinos didn’t succeed downtown doesn’t mean this place won’t.  With the popularity of Stuff’d I’m also looking forward to Vinny’s.
  • Laundry, 293 Princess Street: a clothing boutique, specializing in designer brands and designer prices.
  • Masala Foods & Take Out, 320 Princess Street: over the past few years we’ve been cooking more Indian and Pakistani food, so this addition significantly aids our culinary experiments.
  • Studio 330, 330 Princess Street: one of many new yoga studios that’s realigning downtown Kingston.
  • Samatva, 397 Princess Street: reach for the sky as you reach for your toes in yet another new yoga studio.
Interested in learning more about the state of downtown Kingston? Check out part two of this series, which focuses on Downtown Sidestreets in 2009. Want even more? The 2015 edition of this series is now available.
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