Downtown merchants optimistic about holiday shopping season

Photo By Rick Harris
David Pinckard of David-Lynn is very optimistic about the upcoming holiday season. "People are already shopping, and I think after the election, things will really loosen up," he said.

By Rozella Hardin
star staff

  Can you remember Elk Avenue 30 years ago? What happened when the mall opened? Then the giant discount superstores? Downtowns slowly withered, and along with them, many small businesses died.
  Not so in Elizabethton, where downtown merchants are excited about the upcoming holiday season.
  David Pinckard of David-Lynn said, "The Christmas season looks really good for us. We've ordered a lot of new merchandise, and already we've had a lot of people Christmas shopping. I think after the election, things will really loosen up."
  Pinckard said the car shows downtown this summer had created more traffic. "It's more than we've ever had. Business has been good. Anytime you can increase the amount of traffic downtown, it's good for business. A lot of the downtown businesses, especially the antique stores, have profited from the increased Saturday evening traffic," he said.
  "We have a vibrant downtown, and with the improvements that are being made, I think the future of downtown is very good," Pinckard said, noting that Elizabethton like many other downtowns is transitioning from primarily a retail center to a business and government center with specialty shops and personal care businesses.
  "The car show has helped us in that on Saturdays we are no longer a 9 to 5 downtown," he said.
  John Bunn, president of the Elizabethton Downtown Business Association, like Pinckard is excited about the upcoming holiday season. Bunn, who with his wife, Lisa, own and operate The Coffee Company as well as The Annex located inside Duck Crossing Antiques, said, "We've had a tremendous summer. With the Elk Avenue Bridge open again, we've had a lot more traffic downtown this summer than last year. The car shows have brought a number of people from out-of-town. Also, the farmers market has gotten off to a good start, and hopefully, next spring and summer it will continue to grow," he said.
  Bunn was very optimistic about the upcoming holiday season. "Things are looking really great. We already have a multitude of parties booked, and we've had several tickets purchased for the Rick Simerly Night, we are hosting on Dec. 16," Bunn said.
  Farther up the street, it is a busy time at Cannon's Appliance, which is being remodeled and being made into a Broyhill Showcase Gallery. Brenda Cannon, who owns the business with her husband, Darrell, said business had been good all year. "It's been consistent, and we are entering what is usually our busiest time of the year," she said.
  Cannon said the car show had brought a lot of first-timers to the city as well as visitors from North Carolina, Virginia, Knoxville and Nashville.
  "We're really excited about our showcase gallery, which includes a completed 3,200 square foot log cabin, fully furnished. We hope to have the remodeling completed sometime in November, but it's (the work) going slow," she added.
  Cannon is sold on the downtown. "We need more space, but we're committed to the downtown. I love the location, and I think downtowns are going to become more active overtime. I'd rather go downtown than to the mall," she shared.
  Pinckard agreed that downtowns are making a comeback. "Downtowns began because people needed to shop and work, but there wasn't a car in every garage. Stores, jobs, and residences were all close by, or people used public transportation to get around. Remember, when buses used to operate to bring people to the local plants and to town," Pinckard exclaimed.
  "When personal automobiles became more common and in the fifties and sixties when subdivisions became the norm, people left the downtown and the stores followed. But, I think we're seeing the revival of the downtown. Our downtown has character and history that the malls and shopping centers lack," he further noted.
  "Really, we have a lot going for us," Pinckard said.