Question: Are there any new business and shopping niches developing in downtown Harrisonburg?
Answer: Yes, outdoor recreation seems to be one big trend at the moment. Last year, HDR received a recommendation based on reporting by Todd Barman, a consultant from the National Main Street Center, that our downtown business community build on the outdoor recreation resources already present in the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area by promoting a specialty niche for related businesses in downtown. Recently, this natural fit has moved to a higher level.
The outdoor recreation business trend began with Shenandoah Bicycle Company and The Runners Corner, who not only have successful businesses but demonstrated a commitment to downtown by purchasing their buildings. New businesses that build on this outdoor recreation niche include Pro-Tested Gear, Rocktown Bicycles, and Walkabout Outfitter.
Other initiatives are Harrisonburg’s designation as an Appalachian Trail Community since 2011, and an outdoor recreation theme for HDR’s Valley Fourth parade. Harrisonburg Tourism & Visitor Services reports that many visitors to the Hardesty-Higgins House are attracted to the area’s outdoor recreation resources and businesses. When the Northend Greenway and related projects are completed, the image of downtown as an outdoor recreation attraction will be even further enhanced.
Eddie Bumbaugh is the Executive Director for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.