This could be the year of the resale industry and Old Town Pacific is a hotspot for the trend, according to Alderman Carol Johnson, who wants the city to put up signs to promote the resale businesses that have set up shop there.
Johnson says many more people would come to Downtown Pacific to shop if they were aware of the area as an antiques, home décor and collectibles bargain center.
Some 18 businesses, including resale stores and restaurants, are located on First and St. Louis streets, including three that expanded their space and one that is making plans to expand.
Included in the shopping area are 15 stores, a railfan museum that sells T-shirts and train memorabilia, a city history museum that sells calendars and historic memorabilia and six places to have breakfast, lunch or snacks.
Even Coleman Florist, located at 404 S. First St., the flagship of downtown shopping, which kicks off the annual Christmas shopping season with a showing of new items has always offered gifts and floral decorations, and recently rearranged its showroom to make space for unique consignment home decor items.
The Pacific Brew Haus, 220 S. First St., located in the historic McHugh-Dailey building which occupies the former Great Pacific Coffee Company space, has added music several evenings a week and outside dining when weather permits.
Junk N Java coffee shop has expanded from a 300-square-foot coffee bar in the small courtyard on First Street to a 1,200-square-foot bistro at 121 E. St. Louis St. The loyal breakfast crowd can now get salads and sandwiches for lunch in a vintage sit-down room with a view of passing trains. Owners Deanna Fiedler and Vernon Elders, who roast their own coffeebeans, say they plan to blend and sell coffee under the proprietary brand Tobia.
Deanna Christine and Jim Iden recently returned to the downtown area, opening a gallery at 123 E. St. Louis St. The fast-paced resale shop first opened on West St. Louis Street, moved into larger quarters in the former nursery barn at 705 S. First St., but lost that space to a fire last February. The current space is small, but filled to the brim with a potpourri of furniture, pictures, dishes and mirrors.
NettieSuze Home Décor, 113 W. St. Louis, singled out as the Chamber of Commerce July business of the month, offers both new decorator items and restored furniture. The signature product of the business is a handpainted furniture that the two owners Annette (Nettie) Grimm and Susan (Suze) Jones, have restored with their one-of-a-kind designs.
Christopher’s Corner, the summer soft-serve ice cream business formerly occupied a 400-square-foot building at 306 S. First at the corner of Orleans, has bought the building next door at 326 S. First. The new quarters are 3,200 square feet and will include a 56-seat restaurant that will soon serve burgers and fries, as well as a banquet or rental space that can accommodate an addition 86 people.
Owner Dennis Scoles says the larger space will allow the business to remain open all year and expand the number of employees from 15 summer workers to more than 30 year-round workers.
Kaleidoscope Consignment Shop, 136 W. St. Louis, doubled its size last year and April Aubuchon spearheads a “Ladies Night Out” promotion of the district as a place with special appeal for women shoppers. Aubuchon also helps organize downtown flea markets and was in charge of vendors for the recent Cruise Night car show.
At the July 2 board of aldermen meeting, Johnson asked fellow board members to help promote the businesses located in the Old Town shopping district. She said Old Town Pacific has a history of main street shops that date to the railroad boom years in the 1870s when a new business was added almost every week and more than 100 small mom-and-pop businesses were located within a four-block area.
In recent years, an eclectic mix of businesses have set up shop on St. Louis Street, including doughnut shops and a pastry shop, but failed, some say due to the big-box syndrome.
“I think it’s just a matter of enough people knowing the shops are here,” Johnson said. “These stores offer different kinds of bargains than what you find in the big-box stores, but a lot of people are bargain hunting and downtown Pacific is the right place.”
Nancy Schlechter, who operates Fancy Nancy’s, a resale shop at 323 S. First, stepped into the resale business by networking with other resellers to locate appliances for bargain hunters who needed a refrigerator or washer and dryer. Now in addition to bargains in all furniture, Schlechter’s network of sellers are bringing her unexpected items.
On sale in her store is a desk signed by former President Jimmy Carter that reseller Mike Hines bought as part of an abandoned storage locker. The previous owner of the desk worked for Habitat for Humanity and when she retired the former president autographed her desk drawer.
Hines also recently bought a frayed family photo album, labeled Durant, Okla., that has the names Bonnie and Clyde Barrow handwritten on the cover. Inside, someone has cut and pasted snapshots of family members, including faces that bear a resemblance to the famous 1933-34 crime spree couple.
Schlechter said she is is contemplating expanding her business.
Businesses that expand like Kaleidoscope, Junk N Java and Christopher’s Corner, and come back to the area like Deanna Christine are proof, Johnson says, that Downtown Pacific is a viable shopping district and a community asset.
“We, as a city, need to do what we can to promote this district,” she said. “These businesses have invested in Pacific and invested in themselves and the city should take the initiative to help let people know they are here.”
Johnson wants a sign at First and St. Louis streets that lets motorists know that shops and restaurants are located on both East and West St. Louis.
Deanna Fiedler, owner of Junk N Java, agrees that the retailers and restaurants need signs to let customers and potential customers know where they are.
“Signs bring the customers,” she said. “The way it is now, we are all vying for sidewalk space with our handmade signs. It’s beginning to look like an expanded yard sale. We need something that equally identifies all the businesses.”
Stores in the downtown district include Birdsong’s Gifts and Cards, Coleman’s Florist & Gifts, Deanna Christine’s Gallery, Fancy Nancy’s resale, Kaleidoscope Consignment, NettieSuze Home Décor, Pacific Plaza Mall & Creations Unlimited frame shop, Pacific Railfan Museum, Route 66 Antiques, The Gold Shield and Tri-County Pawn and Gun shop.
Restaurants in downtown include D’Angelo’s Pizza, Domino’s Pizza, Handlebars, Junk N Java, Pacific Brew Haus and Subway.