Often that’s the case. We’re so interested in the next new thing to open downtown that we strain to see through cracks in the windows or doorways in anticipation of what might be inside. In the last few months, there have been some significant closures downtown such as Manhattan’s, Ten Thousand Villages and Vagabondia. These usually make the news and the commenters on local media websites predict doom and gloom for the city. Of course, when new places open they predict doom and gloom for those businesses, as well, so I guess some people are just going to see the dark clouds between the silver lining every time. For the rest of us, new businesses bring excitement as we see the neighborhood growing more vibrant with each step. There are a number of new ventures in the works, but today I’ll note some that have started in the first half of this year.
Morelock Music is a cool addition to Gay Street. Matt Morelock has long been a downtown fixture and had temporary quarters a few doors down, but has now moved into his permanent home at 411 S. Gay Street. They sell new and used musical instruments, give lessons, repair instruments and even have men’s hats and vintage clothes. For all the musicians downtown, it’s a godsend to have picks, strings and capos readily available and it’s also a hub for itinerant musicians moving around the area.
Black Market provides a great source of affordable, funky clothes for women – and a few things for men. It opened in the last week and is already getting rave reviews and lots of business.
Aisle Nine promised to be the long awaited grocery store for downtown. That appears to be a bit of a stretch. One would be hard-pressed to survive by purchasing groceries at Aisle Nine. Still, it isn’t an unwelcome addition to the mix of retail downtown. It seems to me more like a convenience store with a very good selection of beer. As a convenience store, it isn’t bad to add another. The closest one is The General Store on Gay Street and that’s a long hike from the Old City for a beer and a bag of chips. I wish them well, but I’ve stopped holding my breath for them to be the grocery store we’d like to see. Their web site looks good, but, if you look closely, they are hyping an event from May and I promise you, the pictures of deli meat and vegetables they have posted were not taken in that store. If they get better, I’ll be the first to shout, “Hosanna.”
Rala opened on Union Street just after the beginning of June in a store front that had been empty. Significantly, it is just three doors down from Reruns, which like Rala is owned and operated by Nanci Solomon. The concepts are similar. Reruns features used women’s clothing and Rala features used art. Both are very tastefully done and the average customer wouldn’t know the items had been previously owned. Reruns has been successful for years and here’s hoping the same for Rala.
Swagger opened this spring on Market Square after moving from Bearden. This is the business that took the place of Ten Thousand Villages, which closed after a successful run when the operators decided to do other things. Swagger moved in immediately and manager Ricky Hopkins (pictured, right) says all is going well. The store sells “limited-edition, re-created, old-school athletic shoes starting at around $90.” That’s according to Metropulse. I couldn’t make up a line like that, but I hope they do well. Stop in and meet Ricky. He’s a fun guy to talk to. And check out those shoes!
There are other businesses which promise to open later, but this is a pretty good start on a good year. I’ll write more on the others in coming months.