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Economic outlook is bright on Main Street

Photo by Carole Robinson

Merchants and shop owners up, down, and around Franklin's historic Main Street appear to be consistently bullish on their businesses' outlooks for 2013. Fueled by streetscape upgrades by the city, an economy on the rebound, and a surging tourism industry likely only to get stronger with the Civil War sesquicentennial just around the corner, their optimism is understandable. The Williamson Herald visited a number of businesses in the area to ask about the local economic forecast for the year.

Landmark Booksellers

114 East Main St.

The proprietors of Landmark Booksellers a block north of the Town Square are optimistic that the new year will be a strong one for their 8-year-old business.

“We always expect that, we're optimistic folks,” said Joel Tomlin, who co-owns the business – and the historic building in which its located – with his wife Carol. “As long as tourism is good; we always do well.”

Landmark Booksellers sells new and pre-owned books, as well as collectible editions, and features a comfortable reading area comprised by a leather sofa and love seat set. The arrangement appears to be a magnet not only for the shopkeepers and customers alike, but authors as well – two stopped by separately during The Herald's short visit Monday.

Joel, as many of his counterparts in the immediate historic downtown Franklin area echo, says that the recent infrastructure and aesthetic upgrades to Main Street not only add to the district's charm, but also serve as a strong draw for out-of-towners.

“It's really helped tourism, as will the restoration of the Franklin battlefield,” he said, referring to the Civil War Trust's recent purchase of a Columbia Avenue property upon which preservation groups plan to build a park. This, combined with the Civil War's sesquicentennial anniversary nearing, the Tomlins see their business continuing its upward trend for 2013.

Photo by Carole Robinson


HeyDay Gifts

334 Main St.

Paula Hey, who has served as manager of HeyDay Gifts since it opened in 2010, said business has increased with each passing year – a trend she expects to continue.

“We've been here three years, and it's improved each year,” Hey said. “We're looking forward to having more traffic in 2013, especially with the addition of Anthropologie.”

Anthropologie, the popular do-it-all women's clothing, home-furnishings, and gift store opened on Main Street in 2012 directly opposite HeyDay.

“We also get a lot of tourists, which is a big plus for us,” she said. “They come to Franklin because of articles in magazines like Southern Living and Country Living.”

Main Street Toy Company

412 Main St.

Business was bustling at Main Street Toy Company to the point the shopkeeper barely had time to say that business was bustling.

“We look forward to this year,” Amanda Juillard said between customers at the checkout counter. “A new owner took over in September and they've already done better than in year's past.”

One child toddled about, chasing Matchbox-type cars across the laminate floor, while another was much – much – more interested in the candy near the cash register.

“We have new stock, better inventory, and better sales, than we previously did,” Juillard said.

Photo by Carole Robinson

Franklin Theatre

419 Main St.

Barely 18 months from its rebirth, Franklin Theatre is more than a just a silver screen with a facelift – it's a state-of-the-art multi-use entertainment facility poised to host some 600 movie screenings, plays, live musical performances, and corporate events over the next 12 months.

“There are a number of occasions where we will have a corporate event in the morning, a movie in the afternoon, and a music event in the evening,” said Dan Hays, director of Franklin Theatre. “We're looking at about 75 live concerts and about 40 performances by our resident theater company.”

In addition to screenings of fan-favorites “Ferris Bueller's Day Off,” “The Goonies,” and a weekly series featuring the films Hollywood's most famous “Knoxvillian” called “Tarantino Tuesdays,” Hays said performances by musical heavy hitters this winter include Suzy Bogguss, John Oates, Darrell Scott, and Larry Carlton combine to make the 2013 outlook for the 76-year-old theater very bright. Carlton is nominated for his fifth Grammy award, scheduled just five days before his Feb. 15 performance in Franklin, his hometown.

Plus, this winter will feature the Franklin-based theater company Studio Tenn's productions of “Big River” and “My Fair Lady.”

“They do such a wonderful job with their productions,” Hays said. “Their interpretations of these shows is always world class. We are very proud to partner with them to bring that level of Broadway entertainment to Main Street.”

Merridee's Breadbasket

110 Fourth Ave. South

Jim Kreider, who has owned this bakery and lunch mainstay since 1994, said tourism is good for his business. And with the Civil War sesquicentennial on the horizon, he can expect a boost from a significant boost to tourism that's anticipated. But Kreider caters – literally – to locals.

“I don't think there's ever been as much local support in downtown Franklin as there is now,” Kreider said. “Franklin is a destination community, and part of the appeal is that there are a lot of visitors. But the biggest change in recent years is Franklin people choosing to come downtown for dining and shopping.”

It's ironic that Kreider touts support from fellow Franklinians as a key to the eatery's longevity, when his business has garnered attention from national print and broadcast media, including Southern Living Magazine, and the Food Network.

“The biggest change in recent years is Franklin people choosing to come downtown for dining and shopping. I really feel like there's more to do, like the Franklin Theatre, for instance,” Kreider said. “In spite of what's been going on nationally with the economy, conditions in Franklin just continues to get better. I'm thankful to do business here.”

Photo by Carole Robinson

Shuff's Music

118 Third Ave. North

The manager of Shuff's Music on Third Avenue North one block west of Main Street expects 2013 to bring music to her ears.

“I think we'll see an up year from 2012,” said manager Sarah Whittin, who has been with Shuff's Music for 24 years. “We saw an upward trend at the end of 2012, which seems to be carrying over to 2013.”

Shuff's Music was established in 1978, and provides the sales and rental of musical instruments as well as music lessons. In addition to renting marching band and stringed instruments to students, the Franklin mainstay also rents pianos.

Unruli Aveda Salon

121 Third Ave. North

Uli Reyes opened Unruli Aveda, an upscale hair salon and spa, five years ago in the maelstrom of a plummeting economy.

“We survived the 2008 market crash,” Reyes said. “And at the time, Third Avenue was not that pretty.”

Since then, the street has undergone the same streetscape transformation that helped develop Main Street into a prototype for the traditional, all-American town. Although the construction project outside his Unruli's door presented obvious logistical challenges for his business, the aesthetic upgrades have had a positive effect. A former “acrobalance performer” in Las Vegas – think Cirque du Soleil without the thematic story lines – Reyes sees the opening of an Aveda school in Cool Springs in February as a catalyst for good tidings.

“That will elevate the whole industry in the area,” he said. “It's going to increase the talent pool.”

Reyes said he will serve as an instructor for the academy, which will give him a leg up on identifying the most-talented students. This, he said, is cause for great optimism that the upward trend of his business will continue throughout 2013.



Posted on: 1/9/2013


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