ALEXANDRIA, Ontario - This isn't your grandfather's Alexandria - and we're pretty sure your dad wouldn't recognize it either.
The hub of North Glengarry is undergoing a significant shift in its landscape, with a slew of changes on the commercial front.
A new Your Independent Grocer, coupled with renovations to Canadian Tire have augmented a busy section of town for motorists arriving from the south, and Glengarry Funeral Homes has likewise invested tens of thousands in a renovation that is already paying dividends.
And people are noticing.
"At this point everyone is pleased to the developments and the changes," said Michael Madden, president of the Alexandria and District Chamber of Commerce. "It's a good indication that we're doing alright."
For a long time that wasn't the case. Alexandria, for many years, suffered from an identity crisis as many had written off the North Glengarry town as a place where commerce has struggled.
Not so now, said Brent Hill, owner of the newly-renovated Glengarry Funeral Home.
"I think it just gets to a point where people expect a little more," he said. "These changes we're doing offer a different level of service."
Hill suggested with many changes coming in places like Cornwall, shoppers expect a bit of a trickle-down effect and that their local merchants have to keep pace.
"These changes are what buyers expect in bigger centres," said Hill, whose operation now includes a 2,500 square foot reception area that didn't exist before. "All this is a good thing for the town."
Some merchants preferred a completely new building to a renovation.
Marco Chartrand, owner of Your Independent Grocer in Alexandria, said making the change to his store made sense from a business perspective, since customers were looking for a new shopping experience.
The previous YIG store was completely demolished in favour of a brand new store earlier this year.
Next door the Canadian Tire store is likewise going through a renovation.
"We're in the right place and going the right way," said Madden. "Coming into town it's something people will stop and say 'We should take a look at this place.'"