Historic downtown district sees business boom

Published: May. 3, 2022 at 6:27 PM CDT
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POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - Despite economic downfalls across the country, the historic downtown Pocahontas is coming alive with new faces all around the town square.

Each new business brings a fresh, interesting new spot for locals and travelers.

“This is a great little kept secret town. Within the next six months to a year, you’re going to come down Highway 67 and stop in Pocahontas. There’s some treasures down here in Pocahontas,” Donald Smith said.

His eatery, Chef D’z Grab-N-Go, is the newest business in the square, but he likely won’t hold that title for long.

Cally Shore with the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce said they are making a concerted effort to bring in new businesses to revive the historic district.

She added the pandemic showed why it’s important to support the local economy, and the boom in business demonstrates how committed their residents are.

“Our community has always been very supportive. And I feel like that has stayed the same during the pandemic,” Shore said. “The community comes together and wants to support the mom and pop businesses so that we can stay afloat and keep growing.”

“I understand years ago, people were used to going downtown, but now they’re not. So we’re trying to get them to come back downtown and discover some of the new businesses,” Glenn Clark, owner of Mildred’s Spice Corner, said.

Clark’s shop opened back in 2021, and despite the pandemic, he’s not the only one.

Several shops in the square opened either before the pandemic or just after it started, and still, their owners have managed to overcome the odds.

“We’ve really grown since COVID. The whole downtown has started to grow since then,” Carrie Barnes, owner of Gypsy Girl, said.

Barnes’ business opened six years ago but briefly shut down during the pandemic.

However, thanks to overwhelming community support, Gypsy Girl is still standing.

For Brent Martin, owner of Murphy Design Company, the pandemic saw him shift his business model. His wedding planning business now includes home décor.

“It was scary. It was very scary. During COVID, it was very hard but since then it has started booming,” he said.

Several new businesses are also on their way or in the works according to Shore, including new retail spaces, restaurants, and even a possible Airbnb location.

Misti Stowers, the owner of Buttercream Bakery, said the sense of community goes a long way.

“The businesses on the square, we’re all good friends. We try to promote each other and help each other however we can. And we look forward to the growth that’s still to come,”she said.

Business owners in downtown Pocahontas all said they don’t want to try to replicate the successes of towns like Jonesboro or Paragould. Instead, they want to pride themselves on being a unique spot with businesses you can’t find anywhere else.

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