NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Two downtown Northampton businesses announced they are closing by the end of the month, joining several other prominent stores leaving the city as well.

It's prompting many to wonder what's causing the exodus.

Convino Wine Bar and Viva Fresh Pasta Co. are following Faces and La Fiorentina Bakery on their way out of Northampton.

While the two businesses have different reasons for closing, one thing is the same, there will be two more empty retail spaces in the city.

"It's my son's favorite restaurant," Florence resident Antigoni Lively tells us.

Antigoni Lively says she is sad to see Viva Fresh Pasta Co. go after thirty-four years in Northampton.

The owners declined an interview, but tell Western Mass News, over the phone, they wanted to retire.

"My first thought was, 'Why didn't they try to sell it and try to keep it going?'," stated Lively.

"We have not heard of any replacements right off the bat," said the Northampton Chamber of Commerce's Executive Director Vincent Jackson.

Jackson says that's no replacements for any of the closing businesses.

Still, he maintains the business climate is better than ever.

"What we're seeing within the business community in downtown Northampton is nothing but growth. We're up 6% versus a year ago," explained Jackson.

"There must be a way for Northampton sidewalks to be shopper-friendly and family-friendly," says Caroline McDaniel.

Owner of the closing Convino Wine Bar, Caroline McDaniel, couldn't disagree more.

"I do think that the town has not handled the situation with the homeless people and panhandlers," noted McDaniel.

Caroline McDaniel says her customers complained about the pan handlers during her four and a half years in business.

"I am in no way demonizing the panhandlers," stated McDaniel.

She says the tax benefit of the marijuana dispensary in town hasn't trickled down to helping those in the city who need it most.

She also claims the increased traffic from the dispensary doesn't equate to more people visiting Main Street businesses.

"They don't really that much. They come and they park here, which is not Main Street. They don't even make it that far," said McDaniel.

Western Mass News went to City Hall early in the day to get a comment from the mayor, but he didn't return our request for an interview.

"I do think that the town is struggling and it's not just a feeling," added McDaniel.

Faces moved to the Hampshire Mall.

La Fiorentina, while closed in Northampton, will continue to operate their Springfield and East Longmeadow locations.

We did reach out to NETA for comment.

In a statement, they tell us:

“NETA strives to be a good community partner and do all we can to support businesses in Northampton. We have heard many positive stories about our customers who frequent Northampton stores and restaurants and believe their spending has benefited the local economy as a whole.”

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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