A number of businesses are moving away from the Bijou Street business corridor between Tejon Street and Cascade Avenue.
The moves have been prompted by a number of factors, including a desire to be on Tejon, a chance to cash in on lower Tejon Street rental rates and a desire to get away from the newly opened hookah and smoke accessory shop, Hookah King, at 11 E. Bijou St. — the former location of Out of the Box, which moved to Old Colorado City a few months ago.
Within a few weeks, Zeezo’s costume and magic shop will move from 3 E. Bijou St. to 104 N. Tejon St., the former location of Mt. Tejon, which moved half a block to the north a few months ago.
Zeezo’s co-owners Mark and Jessica Modeer said their new location will offer more space, but also said they want to get away from the hookah shop and Bijou Tattoo, at 9 E. Bijou St.
“There’s definitely a lot more foot traffic on Tejon,” Jessica said. “But we also don’t want to be near that hookah shop. We have a lot of families that shop at our store, and we don’t really feel like it fits with us.”
That’s a concern that was echoed by Susan Godec, who owns the upscale gift boutique Phancy Pheasant, which in the coming weeks is moving from 20 E. Bijou to 220 N. Tejon St., the former location of Michael Velez’ jewelry shop and gallery, which he moved to Old Colorado City a few weeks ago.
Godec said her clientele is not the type that will continue to shop downtown near a hookah business.
“They’ve got bongs in the window,” she said. “That’s not what they want to see.”
Hookah King owner Sam Samara said he is only selling cigarettes and smoking accessories, such as tobacco pipes and water pipes, but will open a hookah smoking lounge after he installs ceiling fans in a couple of weeks.
Samara said he was unaware that the neighboring businesses were unhappy about his presence, but that he’s not concerned.
Tim Leigh, owner/broker of Hoff & Leigh real estate management, said a high retail vacancy rate on Tejon prompted him and other landlords to slash rental rates for vacant shops.
“Large businesses aren’t moving downtown anymore,” he said. “It’s become a boutique shopping destination, and boutiques require smaller, less expensive spaces. Lower rent is the only way to fill these storefronts.”