HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) The population of Carolina Forest may be expanding, but it seems some business owners aren't sharing in the growth. Several businesses in the area are closing their doors and shopping centers are full of empty store fronts.
Even among signs of progress, like a new Goodwill store being constructed on Carolina Forest Boulevard, a few yards away are a handful of empty windows. But one commercial real estate broker says that closed doors can be a sign of regrouping businesses instead of a slowing market.
"The real estate market is an engine that heated up very fast," says Joe Garrell. "Now, we're trying to recover from that. What is surprising is that it's taken three, four, even five years to recover. But we will recover and the market will come back stronger."
Garrell says that empty store fronts aren't an indicator that a location is bad, but that the businesses in them weren't prepared for a tougher economy.
"Those that are out now just weren't strong enough to stay in it. All in all, Carolina Forest is in very good shape. If you're going to have a problem in a market like this one, you're better off having that problem in Carolina Forest than in any other place."
But at Forest Crossings, property owner Bill Meldrum thinks the market in Carolina Forest is shrinking, and he's recently lost Italian restaurant Villa Mare because of it.
"Carolina Forest has stopped expanding," says Meldrum. "It's drawn back its horns and I think that's because of economics."