Seven new businesses have entered the downtown district this year in addition to new ownership, reinvestments and expansions seen in other businesses.
Taking into account the change of ownership and name of Wall Street Cafe, formerly Village Porch Cafe, Cartersville Downtown Development Authority Special Events Coordinator Sandy Lusk tallies the total to eight new businesses all within the first months of 2011.
"For a town of this size, in this economy, to have eight new businesses is absolutely phenomenal," Lusk said. "The economy has to be picking up a little bit. It is evident to me with this many businesses opening up.
"I think everybody has buttoned down the hatches and ridden out the storm and I think we've [been] through the worst of it."
The atmosphere downtown is "cautiously optimistic" said Lusk. The same words were used in a February press release from the National Retail Federation explaining the 2011 retail outlook. The economic forecast projected a 4 percent increase in retail sales over 2010 numbers.
"With retailers leading the charge, the economic recovery appears to be gaining some steam," stated NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in the February release.
As other downtowns across the state and nation are facing inflated vacancy rates, these new businesses bring Cartersville's downtown area to nearly full occupancy with more than 170 businesses operating within the historic district.
The influence of a renewed drive for local spending is the change Lusk hopes to see. A small push may have already made the difference as new businesses move in.
"I think people are very concientious about how they spend their money but the thing that people seem to have caught onto is how important it is to spend your money locally. With these businesses opening up, it shows that there is a demand for locally operated business because people want to support their own. They want to keep their own school systems employed and their own fire department and police department on the payroll," Lusk said.
The Cartersville Depot Visitors Center brings in people from all over the world Lusk said, at least three groups came in last week alone from Canada. The draw she sees for outside guests is a mix of small town charm and large-scale attractions including the Booth Western Art Museum, Tellus Science Museum, Etowah Indian Mounds, Lake Allatoona, Red Top Mountain State Park and Barnsley Gardens Resort.
"People from other areas are amazed with the history and the charm and the small town atmosphere that we have here. You have an experience when you come here that a lot of towns don't have," Lusk said. "We have a lot of attractions that local people take for granted. Those of us that have lived here forever, we don't even think about it."
New businesses entering downtown are: Cindy Harter Photography, Locks Salon, Maximum Body Training, sportsmax, Streetside Antiques, Travel Gnome Vacations and Trends by Stiles.
Wall Street Cafe came under new ownership and moniker in February while ongoing expansions in downtown include Blue Sky Outfitters and WD Archery.
Cindy Harter Photography
Address: 25 W. Main St.
Owner: Cindy Harter
Locks Salon on Public Square
Opened: Feb. 25
Hours of operation: Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment
Address: 19 S. Public Square
Owners: Tina Chung and Fite H. Casey, IV
Business synopsis: "We are a full service salon offering hair cut, color, style, keratin treatments, a full line of manicure/pedicure service and hair removal/wax treatments."
Why did you choose downtown Cartersville: "The atmosphere is spectacular. All of the wonderful shops, restaurants and cafes mixed in with the charm, history and friendliness of downtown make for a perfect place to shop, dine or work."
Maximum Body Training
Opened: Feb. 1, relocated from Tennessee Street
Hours of operation: Monday - Friday 4:30 to 7:15 p.m., Saturday 8 to 10 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m. technique class
Address: 41 S. Public Square
Contact: Beth Andrews 678-773-7290, Russell Andrews 678-232-8251
Owner: Beth and Russell Andrews
Business synopsis: "MBT is a Russian Kettlebell Gym. Kettlebell workouts involve full body exercises. A kettlebell workout will improve overall body strength, cardio endurance, flexibility and flexible strength. We also mix in other training methods including ropes, tires and body weight training. The workouts are intense with a lot of sweating, moving and grunting, all in one hour. We think you'll love it."
Why did you choose downtown Cartersville: "Location, visibility and available space that suited our needs."
Opened: Retail location on March 12, has operated as wholesale at 76 Center Road, Suite C, since 1989
Hours of operation: Monday - Friday 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Address: 12 N. Wall St.
Owner: Rex Parris and Cliff Williams
Business synopsis: "sportsmax is a full service local sporting goods store that also provides team sports uniforms and equipment outfitting. sportsmax provides league equipment and uniform orders to several cities and counties in Georgia. sportsmax is also a corporate member of Georgia Recreation and Park Association. sportsmax.net is the company website that will soon offer our products online starting in May of 2011."
Why did you choose downtown Cartersville: "The atmosphere."
Travel Gnome Vacations, Inc.
Opened: "I began renting my office here on March 1, 2011. Prior to that, I worked full time out of my home for two years. We relocated here from Blairsville, Ga., when my husband retired."
Hours of operation: "Normal hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but we are available after and before hours for appointments. And, because we are a small company, the hours may vary. Call or check our website for information."
Address: The Bradley Building, 5 S. Public Square, Suite 101
Contact: Our website is www.travelgnomevacations.com
Phone - (678) 234-6694 (texts welcome) or toll free (800) 661-5308
Facebook: Travel Gnome Vacations, Inc. (LIKE me!)
Owners: Penny and John Boemanns (and the Gnomes, of course)
Business synopsis: "We are a full service Travel Agency and our focus is providing a fun vacation experience your way!"
Why did you choose downtown Cartersville: "We relocated to this area from Blairsville, Ga., after my husband retired. We fell in love with Cartersville the first time we visited Tellus and my husband began volunteering there. The downtown area is vibrant and an exciting place to visit or do business. We've met some of the nicest people here and we're enjoying our new home immensely!"
Trends by Stiles
Opened: We are trying to be open by April 6th.
Hours of operation: Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 14 W. Main St.
Contact: Phone 770-334-2735, Fax 770-334-2738
Owners: Olga and Kurt Stiles, Manager Darla Larue
Business synopsis: "This will be a ladies apparel and accessory boutique. It is focused on carrying casual dressy, business apparel, and a dew after hours items. We will have items that are trendy for young ladies to our more sophisticate ladies."
Why did you choose downtown Cartersville: "We love the pulse downtown offers to our community."