Three Dog Bakery Will Close this Month Due to Rent Increase
Dog people loved Three Dog Bakery, the Short North shop that for the last 10 years has supplied a niche market with all the pupcakes and Boston Terrier cream pies it could handle. It’s been a place that, for long-time customer Melissa Elliott, always seemed to care about her Great Dane Caine as much as she did.
“How many times can you go into any of these stores now and people can talk about their clients or know them by name?” Elliott says. “She knows pets by name.”
Elliott’s talking about Three Dog Bakery owner and operator Susan Oilar, who at the end of the month will be selling off the last of her equipment and closing the store. The closure is both long-coming and unexpected. Oilar’s been nervous about the ongoing High Street sidewalk expansion project — “It’s going to crush the smaller businesses in the process” — and, more acutely, her landlord just doubled her rent.
Oilar sees the end of Three Dog as an unfortunate and natural consequence of neighborhood development, which she says favors regional and national business over smaller boutique shops.
“A lot of the original businesses that I opened down here with are no longer here,” Oilar says, “and I’m sure it’s the same issue. It’s not that we don’t love the neighborhood, I think it’s just the rent is becoming only affordable for larger restaurants and chains, in my opinion.”
Betsy Pandora, Executive Director for the Short North Alliance, says business closures are more likely due to individual circumstances than a sweeping rent increase. Actually, her numbers show businesses opening and closing at a rate of 1.5 to 1, and an annual rent increase in the neighborhood of about 3 percent over the last 10 years, something Pandora says a healthy business should be able to sustain.
Small businesses make up the majority of the shops, restaurants, and bars, too, Pandora says, with 90 percent of them locally owned or headquartered and 75 percent employing an average of 20 people or fewer.
“While regional and national chains have been part of our market and do continue to enter our market, they do not dominate,” Pandora asserts. “Taking this year for example, of the 24 businesses that opened in the Short North Arts District, 18 were unique, locally owned small businesses and 6 were regionally- or nationally-based.”
As far as the hindrance private development and streetscape improvements are to business as usual for shops like Three Dog Bakery, Pandora admits that the progress is atypical. She suggests a number of city programs with which smaller businesses can engage, “from a specialized SBA Loan program offered at deep discount with Huntington Bank to several new promotional events and public art projects that will be announced soon.”
Oilar knows about the loan program, but taking out another loan is not a move she’s prepared to make at the moment. Three Dog won’t be opening up elsewhere, either, though Oilar says they’ll still be around on their Facebook and Instagram. The bakery will be offering its goods until the equipment is sold off, and they’re planning a going away party for Sunday, January 28.
Though their assorted treats and specialty birthday cakes will be missed, Oilar said the real loss is in the events Three Dog hosted to bring the dog-loving community together, like their Easter Begg Hunt and Barkers and Beggars.
“The whole neighborhood got involved, and that’s what I think will be really hard. They grew from like, 50 dogs up to 600, so, you know, I think it’s going to be something that’s missed,” Oilar says. “I think we really created a dog community down here, and I think we also got people down here that had never even once thought of coming this neighborhood, people from the suburbs who would go out of their way and come down here and experience the Short North.”
Three Dog Bakery is located at 611 N. High St.
For more information, visit threedogcolumbus.com.