There are several downtown businesses I’ve run across recently which don’t exactly fall easily into the categories that capture our interest. I find that my readers – and myself – are very interested in new restaurants, pubs, gift shops and food vendors of various sorts, from olive oil to groceries to food trucks. It would seem we are very business oriented as a group.
There are businesses, however, that fly just off radar. Some of them have been in the downtown area for a long time, but since they don’t offer retail services we look for on a regular basis, we tend to not see them. Some of them are physically obscured by their location.
I noticed John H. Coleman, just off the eastern end of Main Street at 814 State Street, earlier this spring. It operates from a virtually hidden building settled into a hole formed by a hill and Main. Trucks line the front of the unassuming building and the business has been open since 1945, though I’m not certain it has been at that location the entire time. When we need a good HVAC system we think of such companies, but otherwise they blend into the scenery.
Just behind their building is the Sky Firm with a listed address of 107 Main Street. I’m not sure if the Sky Firm has other components, but it includes a CPA named J. Richard Norris, Jr. Again, unless you need a CPA, I’m not sure they generally come to mind, but we’ve got one right there I’ve never noticed. To be fair, we have CPAs and Lawyers all over downtown and I don’t generally feature them on the blog. This office space, however, seems more off the radar than most.
Nearby, at 221 Cumberland Avenue sits something that seems about as far away from a C.P.A. as one could imagine: The Amused Life Collective – or TALC. As far as I can tell this is the site for creative people to get their groove on and they host all kinds of activities to promote those grooves. They also feature dance classes of a different sort, including sizemology dance, Salome Cabaret, The Follies Girls and Knox Flash Dance. The emphasis is on adult classes and welcoming women of every size.
On the other end of downtown on a section of State Street which blends into the parking area behind Central avenue as you enter the Old City is Cor-Tenn, a construction supply provider. It appears they inhabit very specific niches as their website proclaims the availability of such items as guard-rails or, as they prefer, “aesthetic barriers,” which are an alternative to galvanized guard-rails. They also tout their log home materials such as “industry specific fasteners.” They also provide construction components needed for construction work-sites such as safety equipment.
Around the corner on Jackson Avenue is John H. Daniels and Company. First off, what are the odds that two John H.’s would set up in one downtown area? (See the first business above). This business is probably the oldest continuously operating business in the downtown area, having operated in the same spot since 1928, providing tailored suits to the discerning individual. I’ve said before it seems like an odd fit for its current, edgy surroundings. I’ve heard rumblings of a move, but I can’t confirm that. I like having such a high-end clothing business downtown, though, as with the others, I’m not likely to go there.
What businesses would you add to the list as just a bit off-the-grid, unusual or mis-placed? Should we try to maintain this sort of mix with a bit of manufacturing thrown into what has become a retail and entertainment center? Is the clock inevitably ticking on this type of venture in the center city?