RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You can call it a renaissance of sorts -- the Carytown shopping district is experiencing a boost in business as new shops and restaurants make their home in the "Mile of Style."
The phrases "coming soon" and "now open" are familiar sites on signs along Cary Street. For Franklin Goose owner Sheri Doyle, the area was the perfect choice.
"Here we're able to express ourselves individually," she said "It's a very eclectic mix of people and customers, so it worked well with who we are as a company."
Franklin Goose weighed Carytown against a mall location. It was the laissez-faire attitude of the Carytown Merchants Association that won over Doyle's eco-friendly baby store.
"Because we're in Carytown and the uniqueness of the way the buildings are we're able to have our rain barrel in the back, we have a dual flow toilet, we have ecosystems in our water. So those are things we wouldn't be able to do," she said.
That freedom is attracting many others.
A walk down Cary Street can easily show you some of the changes. Where Ben and Jerry's used to be, Café Ole Mexican restaurant is now opening. And where Blue Oasis Audio used to be, pretty soon you'll be able to get gelato and frozen yogurt at Sweet Frog.
Next, a women's accessories store is getting ready to open right next to Ginger Thai. And Jack's Bagels is set to open in the 3400 block.
Merchants' Association president Bob Broomfield says there's more to the trend. The economic downturn has decreased the average rent payment in Carytown.
"The long-held myth that Carytown is an expensive place to run a business is going away," he said.
And they'll try to bring more customers in with information kiosks, brochures and possible shuttles.
"I foresee if this keeps up that we can basically fill this place up," Broomfield said.
Carytown is also considering an area-specific gift card for the holiday season. And the association will create a restaurant group within the organization to bring in customers to the growing number of eateries.