ASHLAND: New downtown businesses show potential of local commerce

Friday, January 10, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:17 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 11, 2014
Patty Akins opened the Ashland Flea Market in May 2013. A few new businesses, including the flea market, have opened on Broadway in Ashland in recent years.

ASHLAND — Ashland’s efforts to keep dollars within the city’s limits are starting pay off downtown, where cheap rents are paving the way for new businesses to open.

Three independent businesses are examples of this. Owners of Ashland Flea Market, On Broadway Pet Styling and Eagle Scoop Ice Cream chose to launch their businesses in downtown Ashland.

All three contend they're filling a void in the community; Ashland did not have any of these ventures prior to their debut. The flea market and pet grooming business opened in May, while the ice cream shop opened about two years ago.

Ashland is working to help these new businesses and others succeed, said Bruce Wallace, president of the Southern Boone County Chamber of Commerce. A growing community is able to support more enterprise.

“People may not know this, but we’re the second-largest city in Boone County," Wallace said. "We’ve got a growing market. We’re still building houses here.”

Ashland's Economic Development Council holds meetings for discussions about attracting customers to the business district as a whole.

“Our goal is to bring out the businesses in the community that aren’t necessarily in the storefronts," said Heather Cone, who owns On Broadway Pet Styling.

"There are a lot of different artisans in the community, and we want to give them some notoriety and show people they are here."

The Chamber of Commerce is surveying the community to see where Ashland residents like to shop in town and elsewhere. The survey will be the basis of a promotional campaign for shopping close to home.

Wallace said Ashland has an even brighter future if it can make itself a one-stop town for retail needs.

Patty Akins, who owns the flea market, believes variety would drive more shoppers to her store.

“The more places available for people to go, the more people, therefore the more business,” Akins said.

Supervising editors are Jeanne Abbott and Judd Slivka.

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