Higher rents and lower profits are increasingly forcing merchants to flee one of the city’s busiest strips, as vacant storefronts are  cropping up on St. Denis in the Plateau borough.

One of the most recent to close is the popular Aux Deux Marie café, which has occupied a spot on the bustling high street for 20 years.

Management is moving to another area where it believes it will find better bang for its rental buck.

“Here, in an old building, with taxes and insurance we pay around $40-$45 per square foot," said Marie-Josee Cayer of Aux Deux Marie. “If you go to Petit Patrie, Little Italy or Mile End, you're looking at $15-$20 per square foot, so yes, there’s a problem.”

Other merchants have also expressed frustration at dwindling profits.

“Parking is the big problem. The people say it’s very expensive,” says Hatice Kaya of Dany Pizza. “Before it was 25 cents or 50 cents, now $3 to buy one slice of pizza, or $2, they are not happy to come inside.”

She said that there’s no room for rest when the pressure to eke out a profit is so intense.

“Me and my husband, our whole family try to work seven days we are here, we have not one day off to go outside,” she said. “Around us we see every day one store is closed. one day it's going to be us.”

And shoppers have not been oblivious to the closures.

“Where we come from, Hochelaga, an up-and-coming part of town, parking is one quarter the price for twice the time,” said one shopper. “I just think that they have to rethink their parking situation. The tenants move out if people don’t come and people don’t come if it costs them $50 each time they get a ticket.”

Odette Fauchois of Fauchois Fleurs says greedy landlords, faceless big chains and high parking costs have done damage to the bottom line.

"I live further down on St. Denis and I walk it every day. Every day I notice a new ‘closed' sign’ It’s terrible."

Projet Montreal borough councillor Marie Plourde, who is also in charge of economic development on the Plateau, said that the borough is aware of the problem but blames the central city administration.

“It’s not the borough fixing the taxes, it's city central, Montreal, so in a way we're badly a victim of our success because everyone wanted to come here," says Plourde. “We're trying to bring back the experience of living something different when you come to St. Denis street."

The borough is installing more greenery and changing street lamps in hopes that it gives the area a boost.