New faces emerge on Littleton's Main Street
While the face of Main Street generally remains the same, the pace and the places were in an upward swing during 2013, says City Manager Michael Penny.
"Dozens of initiatives that have been put in place over the last two years are really starting to take off," he said.
His staff has spent the last two years building a strong relationship with the downtown merchants, he says, and taking a more proactive role.
"The focus has shifted from a passive 'gardening' approach to one in which we reach out to current and potential businesses," he said. "Many of the businesses locating in Littleton have met and spent a significant amount of time with our staff prior to finding a business location within the city."
He points to programs like the economic-incentive grant, the historic-preservation grant and an upcoming downtown Littleton way-finding initiative that will guide visitors to downtown's amenities.
"The feedback we're getting from the business community has been overwhelmingly positive," he said.
The new merchants agree. Sharon Jones, owner of Gypsy Jones, can't seem to stay away despite her wandering nature. She's been in her current location on Main Street for about three months, in one around the corner on Prince Street for two years before that, in the Streets at SouthGlenn for four years before that, and in two different spots on Main Street for six years before that.
"The gypsy was drawn back, and her caravan is home to roost," she said.
Her store is right next to another consignment store, Full Circle, and right next door to that is Soignee, a high-end women's clothing store that opened in May to round out the selection.
"I love the quaintness of Main Street," said owner Diane Lessnau, adding that she's excited the city is hiring an event planner to help throw the doors open to new faces. "I think it could be really a destination place if more people knew we were here."
Penny said the marketing and event coordinator will be on board soon with a mission to increase tourism, hospitality and events to bring more visitors, businesses and residents to the city.
Soignee is full of sparkly things, as is Jewells up the street. Store manager Jeff Hayzlett says the company manufactures jewelry ranging from $30 to $70,000, and sells it at wholesale prices (bridal sets excluded).
"We had a good Christmas season considering how new we were," he said. The store opened in October, joining JF Sholl as a jewelry option on Main Street.
Dining options became even more diverse in 2013, and with Jose's and the old Opus space still empty, 2014 could see even more.
For now, Pho Real became Main Street's first Asian option, opening in the old Tres Jolie space in August.
"We just thought that pho would be a good fit for the neighborhood," said owner Victor Nguyen. "We bring healthy, good food to the small community. And the city's been awesome, so helpful. (City staff) did everything they could to get us open as fast as possible."
Another unique addition is In-Tea, known for its liquor-infused tea but offering a selection of pastries and grab-and-go lunches, as well. Store owner Carole Alvarez says they'll be expanding their sake collection and offering tastings and classes on the rice-based liquor.
"We're doing awesome here," she said.
Having opened in April, she's been impressed with the strong merchants association and how supportive all the businesses are of each other.
"It's very unique," she said.
The long-awaited La Vaca also opened in March. The name means "cow" in Spanish, and they offer up the best parts for sale. Manager Parker Mosley said the community feeling on Main Street has been great.
"It's just an awesome city to be a part of," he said. "It's changing in a lot of good ways, and it's a great time to be a part of it."