The announced December closure of Yawn's Books & More, a popular downtown Canton attraction, has left the downtown business community reeling.
"We were upset and disappointed [when we learned of the closure]," said Meredith McNeese of Key's Jewlery. "We wish they didn't have to move, but that's expected these days with small businesses."
According to Farris Yawn, owner of Yawn's Books, the closure is part of a downsizing effort undertaken to focus on Yawn's Publishing, the growing publishing company Yawn created in his bookstore during his eight year tenure on East Main Street.
Although the retail bookstore and diner on Main Street will be shutting down, Yawn's new business will still be in downtown Canton at 198 North St.
The move to another location downtown doesn't soften the blow for Doug Key, owner of Key's Jewelry.
"I'm always saddened when we lose a retail partner on Main Street," he said. "The fact that we have relatively few retailers here to begin with hurts all of us. We feed off of each other."
Patricia Reeves, of Studio 121, felt the same way.
"They are a pillar in our community," she said.
Mayor Gene Hobgood said he hated to see Yawn's feel like they had to relocate off of East Main Street, but thought the North Street location would be just as good, if not better, than their previous home.
Hobgood went on to say that although Yawn's is leaving Main Street, the area is much better off than it was four or five years ago.
"When an interstate runs through a community, it tends to suck businesses out of downtown," Hobgood said. "Just keeping downtown alive in this economy is an amazing feat."
When asked how the city can attract businesses to the downtown and Main Street areas, the mayor said the city needs to "keep doing what we've been doing in the past." Measures he named that spurred growth include the First Fridays program, the Taste of Canton and the continued presence of the Arts Center.
The mayor praised the efforts of Canton's Downtown Development Authority with the revitalization of the Canton Theater, and was hopeful that more businesses would benefit from their attention now that the theater project is entering its final phases.
Hobgood regretted that the city council voted down the rental car excise tax, adding that the rent subsidides the tax would have provided would have been an added incentive for businesses to relocate on to Main Street.
Despite Yawn's relocation off of Main Street, the owner still plans to play an important role in the development and prosperity of the area. Farris Yawn will continue to serve on the city's Main Street Board, and has nothing but wonderful things about to say about the Main Street community.
"It's a beautiful area and it's still the heart of the city," Yawn said. "I just can't think of a better place to be."