Are we noticing a new trend downtown? The answer is definitely yes. Retail is coming!
HDR’s first order of business, back in 2004, was to build a base that would support downtown retail. How did we do that? We worked with the city, business partners and benefactors to increase the number of people working, living, dining and attending events downtown. That perfect equation would lay the groundwork for retail profitability. After much hard work and efforts from the community, we can see so many changes! In just a few short years we’ve seen rehabbed warehouses, urban lofts, new streetlights and signs, the birth of Taste of Downtown, the farmer’s market pavilion, and a growing calendar of events that most small towns could only dream of.
As a result <cue drum roll>, we now see an increase in the number of new retail businesses opening or scheduled to open downtown! Just in the last few weeks, two retail businesses have opened – All Things Virginia at 68 W. Water Street and Cocolicious Cupcakes at 14 Newman Avenue. Owned by Vickie Ruckman, All Things Virginia features products ranging from peanuts and candies, to quilts and locally roasted coffee beans.
Cocolicious Cupcakes, operated by Courtney and Joe Pedigo, offers a full array of freshly baked cupcakes; traditional flavors as well as and creative varieties like Pink Lemonade and Maple Bacon – all available with freshly brewed coffee.
In the next few months several other new retailers plan to open in downtown, such as Ten Thousand Villages, Mint, Ridgeville Stained Glass and Beads, and Friendly City grocery. Ten Thousand Villages expects to open in January (at 181 S. Main) and will feature handcrafts from around the world. Mint plans to offer urban-mod clothing, accessories and gifts, in their retail location at the Wetsel Seed building on W. Market Street. Ridgeville Stained Glass and Beads will join Mint at the Wetsel Seed building, selling glass, beads and other craft-making items. A grocery store has been long awaited and will take up residence in the former Mick-or-Mack building on the corner of E. Wolfe and N. Mason Streets, with an emphasis on locally produced food items and healthy foods from national distributors.
The “restaurant row” of downtown was recently joined by Fuzionz restaurant at 95 S. Main Street specializing in Asian and Indian inspired foods fused with American cuisine. In the spring Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft Shack will open at 92 S. Main Street with a menu featuring chicken wings and draft beers.
This amount of growth is amazing for the current economic conditions! Businesses recognize the progress that of downtown revitalization and they’re jumping in to join us. We couldn’t be happier.
Eddie Bumbaugh is the executive director of HDR and has been with the organization since its inception. Without Eddie’s tireless dedication (and his wife Jane), downtown would look much different than it does today.