Goderich rolls out retail and entertainment on its beach this summer

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Searching for pop-up shops, art installations and live performances on a beach?

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Searching for pop-up shops, art installations and live performances on a beach?

You won’t have to go far for that this summer, as Goderich looks to boost its tourism profile with a waterfront pilot project intended to attract beachgoers and help downtown businesses.

Starting in June, local stores will set up wooden huts on the sand, accompanied by a mix of live and pre-recorded music.

“It’s going to be a real interactive waterfront,” said Mayor John Grace. “It’s creating that overarching theme of commerce, and a fun and bright beach.”

Businesses geared toward watersports, such as paddleboard and windsurfing rentals, will also set up shop on the sand.

Arts and culture programs, like short plays, buskers and art demonstrations, could also be on the shoreline.

Grace said the project — currently accepting applicants for the shop spaces — is a boon for the local business community that has been hampered by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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“It’s an introduction to the retail predominantly from our downtown, taken to the customer base, which is on the beach,” he said. “The people that have that experience can then go uptown into our business core and experience those same stores, but in a larger venue.”

The project comes as Goderich continues a revitalization of its 1.8-kilometre boardwalk.

It’s set to be a bustling beach this summer, with a new playground also being built.

Grace said the pilot project could lead to expansion in future years and longer-term retail spaces on the beach.

“We already see the potential for it to grow and probably expand into something pretty neat over the next couple of years,” he said.

The waterfront projects are designed to boost tourism in the small town, but Grace said they could also spur more residential and business investment in the Lake Huron town.

“We know that waterfronts and beaches and natural environments are a real commodity that in lots of places they don’t have, and we do,” he said. “It’s a great asset and we just need to acknowledge and build bigger and better.”

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