Three of the closest store fronts to the temporary bus waiting area.

A silver lining for Danforth businesses

Coxwell station's 'aggravating' bus closure could prove to be beneficial for nearby stores

As the saying goes, there’s a silver lining in every cloud — and that silver lining could prove profitable for some local businesses.

At the end of October, Coxwell Station closed its bus loop to accommodate improvements to make the station more accessible. It’s expected to remain closed until October 2016.

During the closure, buses will be picking up and dropping off passengers at Coxwell Avenue. For commuters, having to wait in the cold at the temporary bus terminal is not an attractive prospect.

“It’s one of those things where you have to kind of convince yourself that it’s OK, but really it’s not,” said Hanna De Leon, a regular commuter in the area. “Having to wait outside, especially now that winter is coming, makes it even more aggravating.”

However, for the owners of nearby stores, having people waiting out in the cold may be a good thing. In fact, said Billy Dertilis, owner of Red Rocket Coffee, it may have a “fantastic effect.”

“I think whomever has a storefront where there’s all of a sudden going to be a whole lot of people waiting for their bus is very lucky, especially before the holidays,” said Dertilis, who is also chair of the Danforth Mosaic BIA, or The Danny, which represents over 500 businesses on Danforth Avenue between Jones and Westlake.

“People are not only going to notice, but sometimes they’ll want shelter, which means they’ll just walk in and browse.”

The store closest to the temporary waiting area is a Subway restaurant. Sharan Sidhu, an employee at the location, has already noticed a difference in the number of people coming into the store.

“It’s been busier since the change,” she said. “A lot of people come in just to wait for the bus, but it’s also affected the sales.”

However, Dertilis predicts this effect will only extend to the nearest stores and restaurants.

Commuters “might go a few doors down, but the truth is, especially if they’re waiting longer for their bus, they’re going to be even antsier to get on the bus,” he said. “There may be some (who go into shops further on the Danforth), but it’s not going to be big numbers. Maybe five per cent of people may venture out to see.”

Tim Liao, a clerk at the Double-D-Store two doors down from the Subway restaurant, tends to agree.

“No, it is not improving my business. People who use transit always want to get home or to their destination as soon as possible,” he said. “They are afraid of missing their bus, so if they come here their bus will come and they will have to wait longer for the next bus.”

Alice Liang, a bartender at Helen’s Bar & Burgers, which is located next door to the Subway restaurant, agrees with Dertilis and Liao. However, to her surprise, a man sitting at the bar admitted to being there only because of the bus loop closure.

“I was waiting there and it’s cold outside, so I thought I’d have a beer and then go home,” David Osmond said. If it wasn’t for the waiting area being outside, he added, he’d “probably just get to the subway, then get the bus and go north, and that’s it.”