RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The recession forced many businesses to close, but there is a rebirth going on in Carytown. Many new restaurants and shops are moving in. Is it a sign that the economy is recovering? The merchants there seem to think so.
The turn-around in Carytown seemed to start after several weekend's worth of snow, which kept shoppers away, finally melted. Said Carytown Merchants Association Board Member Thom Suddeth, "When we started seeing sunny weather and got the snow away, I think we started seeing additional sales. The folks I've talked to who were gloom and doom are definitely seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Sales have been very robust."
Now you'll find new restaurants, like Bonvenu and Basili's Greek Restaurant. Ben and Jerry left their space, but a new carry-out restaurant is moving in. And there are new businesses like The Healing Center. Shops Bits and Pieces and Roan moved to Carytown from other locations. Suddeth says the motivator is lower rent, cheaper than in a mall. "From the research I've done, you're going to spend 40 percent to 50 percent more per square foot."
The Tobacco Club and Gift Shop, which sells hookahs among other things, just opened this weekend. The owner says he saw an unfulfilled niche and a way to create jobs. Said Khalayfeh Alfman, "I used to work for a trucking company. But you cannot just be home and do nothing. You have to go out and do something for your future, for your kids."
Schwartzchild Jewelers expanded. Bangles and Beads has just been remodeled. Said Kiffy Johnson with Bangles and Beads, "Business has been steady. We just remodeled our building and they're building a restaurant on top. So we're really excited about the changes that are heading our way."
Carytown is also getting new streetscaping, scraped the gum off the sidewalks, and plans events like the Carytown 10k on May 16th to drum up business. Other events include the Watermelon Festival on August 8 and the Food & Wine Festival on October 3.
The Carytown Merchants Association tell us that more new businesses are coming. Said Suddeth, "There are contracts on several buildings in Carytown that the agents won't tell me about. They're keeping it sort of hush hush."
The Association says a new children's consignment shop will open in August and to keep an eye out for the Secco Wine bar, opening soon.