MEDFORD, Ore. – Local business owners say high rent is driving them out of Medford’s central shopping plazas. The problem is apparently rooted in maintenance fees that disproportionately affect small shops.
Aaron Anders tried to move his physical therapy business to Medford center two years ago. But the price was too high because of a hidden fee called common area maintenance.
“When you rent in a strip mall or a space, everyone has to absorb the cost for upkeep around the area,” said Anders.
Normally that cost is quite manageable, but when stores go out of business it gets divvied up among fewer and fewer companies.
And according to the stores that remain, that’s exactly what happened.
“This is something we’ve seen developing in the past few years,” said Tyler Giles, General Manager of Healthway Nutrition Center. “I would say beginning approximately four years ago is when it became more noticeable.”
Stores like Jamba Juice, Round Table, and Hallmark fell one-by-one.
The remaining stores saw their rent go up as much as a third in a single year, leaving a flagship area of town without any draw.
“We were getting some extra business from our customers that were visiting our neighbors. Now it’s all just on us,” said Giles.
Anders says if more big businesses that can absorb the cost fill that space, the little ones will follow.
But until then, people like him will continue to set up shop elsewhere.
“The economy in that area and the economy of the town suffers,” said Anders.