Downtown businesses open doors for after-hours event

Published 6:25 pm Friday, May 14, 2010

It was 200 years ago when Elizabeth Wesse’s great-great-greatgrandfather arrived to settle in the Brookhaven area.

Wesse is proud of her heritage and proud of her city. That’s whyshe arrived early for Thursday night’s Business After Hours, a tourof downtown retail stores and the old, renovated buildings theycall home.

“It just thrills me to death that it’s come alive again,” Wessesaid.

Thirteen businesses and one private apartment opened their frontdoors and invited the public in Thursday night, showing offclothing, accessories and wares of all sorts and allowing folks tosee the work that has saved so many downtown buildings. The openhouse showcased the new and the old, bringing back memories formany on the tour.

“What I like is the way we’ve incorporated new businesses whilehonoring the past and not trying to cover it up,” said State Bankofficer Stan Foster. “Each one is unique and special in its ownway.”

Change was a little tougher for Brian Moore.

“Seeing (former) Hodge’s (men’s store) as a women’s store kindof pains me a little bit,” he said of Sweet Ivy, one of downtown’snewest shops at the corner of Whitworth and Cherokee.

Moore said recent downtown renovations have improved the areaaesthetically, and downtown is “clean as a whistle.”

“Hopefully, with (chamber of commerce) promotions like this,downtown will become even more of a shopping destination,” hesaid.

Gary Blair, a past chamber president and one of the organizersbehind Business After Hours, said the inaugural event didn’tgenerate much sales for downtown businesses, but it hopefully put afew of them on the map. He said the chamber would try to hostanother downtown tour this fall to keep the momentum up.

“It was more about inviting people in to browse and look,” Blairsaid. “Getting people down here is the main thing right now.”

Business may come later. Pleasure came first.

“I really wanted to go in Melinda’s, Snazzies too,” said AngieWarren, owner of Expectations. “It’s so beautiful. Sometimes we areso busy and so wrapped up in destination shopping we don’t take thetime to look around.”

Cable One Sales Manager Jullia Ivey paid particular attention tothe little details in the downtown shops.

“The painting they use really makes it pop, makes it shine,” shesaid.