BY LEANN DILBECK –
The momentum from the resurgence of Mena’s downtown continues. The streetscape project is nearing completion, new businesses continue to add to the landscape and now they are all joining together in a collaborative effort by forming ‘Downtown Business Partners.’
Unlike many downtowns in rural areas that are vacant and crumbling, Mena’s downtown district continues to come alive with new businesses as well as significant remodels and capital improvements. Serving as the gateway to the Talimena National Scenic Byway just adds to the many reasons to visit the area.
The defined area for the ‘Downtown Business Partners’ is from Port Arthur to Oak Street and from Mena Street over to DeQueen Street. Recognizing there is strength in numbers, all of the businesses within this area began meeting to strategize and identify opportunities to work together to attract more people to the area.
They are launching their first “Third Thursday Downtown,” on June 16 and all participating businesses will be open until 8 p.m.
Rick Chrisman, owner of American Artisans, said he is excited to see the downtown district working together and added, “Everyone will benefit from it.” Chrisman explained that it is not just retail merchants, “but is an opportunity for all downtown businesses to be open as an added convenience for existing customers … or even potential new ones.” Not all businesses in the designated may choose to stay open until 8 p.m. on June 16 but organizers are hopeful that as their efforts continue, more will see the opportunity and become participants.
Chrisman said many of the participating businesses will be taking advantage of the summer weather and displaying some of their merchandise on the sidewalk.
Gar Eisele, co-chair of ARCO and a long retailer of the cornerstone Washburn’s Furniture store on South Mena Street is equally encouraged at the collaboration between the businesses, “We’ve been told many times that the health of a community is reflected in its downtown. Seeing businesses work together is a reflection of why our downtown continues to prosper and thrive.”
For more on this new event, see the June 15 issue of The Pulse.