Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Brevard's Downtown

When Mark Burrows moved to Brevard in the 90s about 1/3 of the storefronts in the downtown were empty. When I made my tour I didn’t see one that was empty. And, rather than seeing deteriorating buildings, saw many that had been redone and new ones being built. New condos were also recently built a block from the downtown. The downtown was hopping!

On my walk through the downtown I met some interesting, engaged retailers who were taking a local, focused approach to growing their businesses. We visited an art coop studio with two dozen local members, an old upstairs theater converted into movable offices and studios and a grown up kid who still plays with toys.

John Taylor greeted me in his propeller-hat. His O. P. Taylor’s toy store has grown into several neighboring storefronts. He bills his store as “the coolest toy store on the planet.” The store was teaming with both kids and adults playing with toys and perusing the merchandise.

I asked John about the internet’s impact upon his business. “We first got on the internet in 1990, when nobody knew what it was. At one time the internet accounted for 35% of our business, but it has backed off to 20% today just because of all the competition there.”

I love meeting people like John in my tours around the country. They make me feel like a kid again.

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