ARMSTRONG - Michelle Cummings, owner of The Source in Armstrong, thought people driving into storefronts was like lightning—it never strikes twice.
But since a truck smashed its way inside her electronics store, a driver crashed into 7/ Eleven in Vernon and another drove into the Kindale Developmental Association, part of the same shopping complex as The Source.
“Everybody was definitely shaken,” Cummings says of the accident. “Most of all the one employee who was behind my desk that got pushed up against the wall. A few bumps and bruises and she’s still going to the chiropractor, but it was mostly emotional.”
Since then, Cummings has done her homework. Including the recent incidents, she’s aware of at least five cases of cars running into shops in the complex. She also learned that last year, 78 Source stores were hit by cars, most in break-and-enters, but in 12 cases accidentally.
“The majority of drivers were elderly and I personally would love to see stronger testing at an earlier age making sure mobility and movement are all good,” Cummings says. “This sort of incident is more common than we think. We should all make sure our parents or grandparents are safe to drive.”
The 80-something man who accidentally drove into The Source went right over the four inch concrete barriers between the parking stalls and the sidewalk. Now, Cummings and other businesses in the complex are considering other options to safeguard storefronts and staff. She's already changed the layout inside the store, including moving the cash counter away from the window. Changing the outside the store isn't as easy.
“We’re in strata so whatever we do we’ve got to make our strip look uniform. We definitely have to do something though,” Cummings says.
Options include painting the concrete barriers for better visibility or installing posts. Shopkeepers also want to ensure parking spaces and access to the sidewalk aren’t restricted by any barriers put in place.
While the Source side of the strip mall is equipped with concrete barriers, the rest has no protection at all, and sidewalks are perfectly level with the parking lot.
Anastasia Marshall, with Kindale, says the front door was smashed when a woman drove into it May 16, reportedly after her sandal got caught in the gas pedal. Fortunately, none of the Kindale clients were in the building’s front lobby area, as they usually are, when it happened.
Marshall wants to see some sort of barrier installed between the parking spaces and the building to prevent future accidents.
“People are parking closer and closer to the windows and you never know what can happen. When I see somebody pulling in to park in front of our place I’m always looking out the window to make sure they’re not getting too close,” Marshall says.
She’s not the only one looking out for another mishap. Krista Robbins, a cashier at AJ’s Pets & Things is afraid that if no barriers are put in place someone could get hurt.
“I’m shocked that it happened twice in two months,” Robbins says. “I have a lot of kids that come into the front area of the store and of course, I’m concerned about the animals we have in our front window.”
Kelly Baird, an office administrator at the Armstrong Pharmacy & Wellness Centre, plans to approach the owner of the building that houses the pharmacy, the Kindale Association, and a number of other businesses about options.
“That truck coming through The Source really scared everyone,” Baird says.
She’s recommending the owner install something to keep storefronts safer.
“You never know what could happen,” Baird says. “You hope that’s not going to happen again, but accidents happen.”
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