Elizabethton a town of specialty shops


STAR Staff

With its assortment of antique and craft shops, eateries, and consignment shops, Elizabethton is a town of specialty shops.
   The history, charm and character of downtown combine to create an atmosphere that welcomes both area residents and tourists, alike.
   "I think the atmosphere of downtown is a little bit like a step back in time, a little bit slower paced," said Eleanor Koruschak, manager of Maze Emporium. "Our merchants have maybe a little more time to talk to the customers and listen to the customers. I think our downtown is a place where people enjoy each other's company as much as anything else. We're unique in some of the items that can be purchased in our downtown area."
   Koruschak feels people enjoy stepping back into the Good Old Days. "I think people enjoy that, and I think we need it desperately..." she said. "At the Maze, I see that. People will come for lunch, and they will spend an hour browsing through the building, just enjoying the things that are here. We get a lot of people who have interesting stories to tell about the history of this building, the time they've spent here."
   Most of the customers at So Happy Crafts & Gifts are tourists, according to Tammy Markland, who along with Sharon McKinney owns the business. "Most of our business is not local people," remarked Markland, who said the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce does a good job of promoting the downtown area. "We depend on the tourists.
   Markland believes downtown is heading back toward the Good Old Days. "I would love to see it back that way," she said. "I know some of the cafes have tables out on the sidewalk. I would love to see it get back the way it used to be, when people shopped downtown.
   "It's coming along," she said. "We still have some empty stores downtown. I think it's going in the right direction, with the craft stores and the antique stores and the cafes. I think that's a good atmosphere for the downtown district, because people don't come downtown for the necessities anymore. It has to be specialty things, and they have to be nice specialty things to draw people down here.
   "You don't come downtown to go to the grocery store. But I'd like to see them get up in the morning and want to go to lunch and come downtown and eat and look in the stores."
   Downtown Elizabethton "is just a nice little peaceful place to come, walk and shop," said Elizabeth Fair, who along with JoAnn Flemister, co-owns the Precious Beginnings Consignment Shop.
   "Everything's covered, so you can walk up and down the streets and look in the shop windows and actually window shop if you want to without getting wet in the weather. And everybody's nice and friendly."