Downtown Athens appeals to new business owners for different reasons

Visitors to downtown Athens have their reasons for being there.  On any given day, the sidewalks are busy with shoppers, residents walking or riding bikes, local government workers, professionals, and curious tourists discovering great little places to have casual meals.
But why does a business owner choose to open in the downtown district and invest in a “old” building? Is it the foot traffic?  Not necessarily.

For the owners of Reruns Resale Thrift Store, at 116 North Jefferson Street, it was the love of the old and familiar.

Kim Hill, owner of Reruns Resale
“I always wanted a store in downtown Athens, and especially up on the square. I love the small town atmosphere, in the downtown area. I grew up riding my bike up these sidewalks, so everyday is a trip down memory lane for me,” said Mike Hill, owner.

Hill has always loved antiques especially collectibles including comic books, toy trains, cars and other items he played with as a child.  He also has two Buster Brown comics in his personal collections from the 1930-40s and stamped “Smiths Dry Goods, Athens Alabama.”

Hill and wife Kim wanted to open a store that would carry collectibles along with other quality items. 

Not to be confused with consignment, they sell donated items including clothing, furniture and accessories.

Store hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10-5 PM. Seniors (55 and up), get 40% off every Wednesday.  Donations can be dropped off during store hours.

Leah Handley owner of the Pottery by You studio, 103 North Clinton Street, saw the potential for expansion in downtown Athens.

“We had several customers from Athens so when we thought about expanding, Athens was a logical choice,” said Handley.
Leah Handley, owner of Pottery by You

Handley said they hosted several large groups from Athens in their Madison location.  “So with the encouragement of our loyal customers, we took a leap of faith...even in these hard economic times and we expanded.”

The Athens location can accommodate groups of more than 20 and has a relaxed atmosphere for families looking for a creative outlet.
Handley also works with many organizations in creating unique fundraising projects.  To learn more about these projects, or to schedule a group function, call 256-479-9522 or email potterybyyou@gmail.com.
In April, Athens State University opened the Center for Lifelong Learning at 121 South Marion Street.  The Center and gift shop compliment existing businesses and fill the needs for a multi use facility. 

"The Center for Lifelong Learning is the University's way of sharing our educational wealth with Athens and Limestone County," states Athens State University President Bob Glenn.  "It encompasses a broad scope of uses - from credit and non-credit class offerings to a gathering place for social and entertainment purposes.  What we hoped would happen has come to fruition as it has fast become a draw to downtown Athens and an educational and entertainment haven for area residents."
Continuing education classes include guitar lessons, ACT prep courses, book discussion groups, specialized exercise classes, cake decorating, and more. 
To check out the full fall schedule, visit www.athens.edu/CLL or call 256-233-8260.  Meeting space is also available. 

Downtown Athens continues to be a desired location for business owners.  Reasons may vary for investing in the district, but downtown Athens continues to thrive as a hub of activity for the community, serving as the county seat, and preserving the deeply rich heritage that makes it unique.

Other businesses that opened in 2011 include H&S Photography, Kristi A. Valls Law Firm, P.C., Amy Boston Photography, and the Law Office of Steve Andrews. 

For information on available properties, contact Spirit of Athens at 256-232-9040 or email spiritofathens@att.net.

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