Revitalized Downtown Doing Well

August 23, 2004 -- Posted at 4:29 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- Urban economic developments are great for towns and small cities but often cause trouble for downtown areas.  Jonesboro has been working hard to revitalize it's downtown in an effort to keep shoppers in that area.  Some new shop owners who say business is good, so far.

"We just see the downtown area growing, it looks great. We love the walls inside the store and the people here are like a family, they just try to take care of each other. We just thought it had a lot more character than some of the other places," said Renee Aspinwall.

And that's why Posh is in downtown Jonesboro...Aspinwall just opened the doors to her upscale shoe store on Saturday.

"Everybody that came in Saturday said that somebody from downtown, a merchant downtown sent them. I think that's the neat part about being downtown, and in turn, I had done the same thing," said Aspinwall, "A lot of people aren't aware of some of the stores, the neat stores downtown."

From a new framing service to new computer businesses, downtown Jonesboro has a variety of stores to entice shoppers. And with the revitalization effort underway, many storeowners are happy with the business boom.

Beverly White of La Boutique Panache has been in business since last November.  "We're starting to see more walking traffic. A lot more people on the sidewalks looking around, realizing that Jonesboro isn't a lot of empty buildings in the downtown area anymore."

"The strength is that were building unique shops, things that are a little bit different than other places around town. They are kind of catering to the downtown aura or feel that we have down here," said Mike Cobb, manager of Main Street Pizza:

One of the many things business owners said they liked about working in the downtown area was the sense of camaraderie that they shared with the other business owners.

"It's just a big family and everybody's been warm and welcome," said Aspinwall.

But what about parking? Narrow streets and few parking lots sometimes keep shoppers looking for a place to park.

"When you go to the mall or to Wal-Mart, you always have to walk, so you may have to walk to some of these stores, but it's worth the walk," Aspinwall said, "There's a lot of neat stores and a lot of neat things."

"The biggest obstacle to overcome right now is to get people used to saying hi to your neighbor and getting out and walking up and down the streets and not being afraid, because it's really nice downtown," said Cobb.