OZARK — The Little White Dress Shoppe owner Carolyn Clark said she never knows what the next day holds for her business in downtown Ozark.
But for now, Clark said business is good.
Clark is among several business owners in the downtown area who have taken a leap of faith within the last year to anchor their businesses in a once-bustling area they hope to revive. Downtown Redevelopment Authority Chairman Steve Schisler said the authority is one of about 13 in the state that have partnered with the National Main Street Center.
In doing so, Schisler said the authority has shifted its focus from just the physical aspects of downtown – which included replacing some 1980s canopies and adding more greenery – to a more holistic approach set forth by the national center.
According to the center, that approach involves organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring for preservation-based revitalization.
Downtown Ozark is predominantly centered around the Dale County Courthouse, with some established clothing, automotive, floral and other specialty businesses that were started or relocated in downtown.
Newer business es , like the The BeeHive and Lemon Dropz Boutique, Lindy’s Mason Jar consignment shop, and other gift and specialty stores have arrived within the last year.
Other businesses, like the Heritage Day Spa and East Avenue Bakery, shut down their downtown locations not long after opening, while some longtime businesses, like Walter Hand Ford, are expected to modify.
Even with the fluctuation of businesses, Clark said she believes downtown Ozark is headed in a promising direction. Since opening her store in January, Clark said shoppers from as far as Tampa, Fla., and Mobile have sought out the shop from online advertisements and, while visiting, have potentially found other downtown stores in which they were interested.
“Brides love that they can come to this one area and get everything they need, from the flowers, tuxedos, print shops for invitations and the gift stores downtown,” said Clark, whose storefront sits at the corner of North Union Avenue and Broad Street.
“It’s like a one stop place to shop. I’d say I’ve had more business here than I did when I was in Dothan.”
Clark said opening her business in downtown was a move of faith. She said she plans to open another store downtown that offers pageant and prom dresses, and she hopes more restaurants will locate in the city.
“I really believe that Ozark is on the verge of things happening,” she said. “People are tired of having to drive out of town to get what they need. I believe more and more people are finding that much of what they need is here.”
Mikell Bishop of Bishop’s Framing and Trophies on Broad Street said her business relocated from College Street in July 2012.
She said the business started in 2009 and serves customers throughout the state.
“This area is larger than what we had now that we have sports apparel, frames and trophies,” Bishop said. “It’s easier to direct people here, too.”