Stories from Downtown – Marina’s
on the Square and Domenico’s Italian Deli
Retail businesses downtown rise to the challenge of COVID-19.
Three stores, located on three different blocks of Downtown Murfreesboro, filling three unique niches. From bread to women’s clothing to refurbished furniture, these small business owners have all walked the same path of keeping afloat during COVID-19.
Simply Pure Sweet, 128 North Church Street
Chantell started Simply Pure in March 2016 on Walnut Street, moving to a larger location on the square at 128 North Church Street just a month before their doors were shut. “We have just dug in and worked, finding ways to boost our business on certain days with pizza night and sprinkle bread.” When asked what people are still buying during the quarantine… “Bread!” Matthew known as the ‘bread man’ has been able to continue his delicious bread making skills for the community, while Chantell has kept the goodies supplied for everyone to enjoy for breakfast and well, anytime. Having studied in France, Chantell gained a strong passion for French pastry, which she has become known for downtown. Chantell states there has been increased support for opening more businesses that bring people downtown, and Simply Pure has enjoyed the influx of foot traffic.
“When we opened, we had less money for marketing. But now we have our name established, more connections, and resources to do a number of things including our recent expansion.”
Opening her own bakery was a lifelong dream and choosing downtown just felt right. “New construction is sterile feeling almost. The character of downtown is exactly what we wanted and it felt more like growing up in a small town. We can’t imagine leaving downtown.” During the Covid shutdown, missing the interactions with their customers has been the hardest change. Simply Pure has been operating with reduced hours and staffing, offering curbside when requested, and adjusting products to fill the demand for items as needed.
“Our wholesale customers have continued to support us as best possible with orders,” says Chantell, but mostly she has felt the support of other businesses around her through their promotions of Simply Pure right alongside themselves. “As with all small businesses it is incredibly difficult to operate without customers walking through your doors. We hope they genuinely understand how important they are to our everyday living as well as to the business.
Some of Chantell and Matthew’s biggest encouragers have been their amazing employees. “They want to see us continue to be successful and have gone above and beyond in being flexible and understanding.”
Stress relievers for these two? “Our German Shorthairs Suzie and Stella. They have been the biggest blessing through all this.” When asked how the community could learn from the COVID-19 pandemic, Chantell shared, “we hope that people see how vital small businesses are to the economy and to the communities they are in. We are your neighbors, your friends and so much more.” Chantell thanks her loyal customers for all their support and for checking on them during this time. Simply Pure is still open for take outs, so stop by and find your new ‘favorite sweets’ or just get some lunch to go. Whether it is a French Macaron or Gluten Free cookie for dessert or the Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad and a cup of coffee for lunch you will find something to make your heart warm and stomach full. You can find more delicious choices at www.simplypuresweets.com.
ReVintaged Lemon, 302 West Vine Street
Being creative was in these two business partners DNA. After Pete retired he and Sylvia decided to open a brick and mortar downtown and fulfill a dream along with having a creative outlet and hobby to pursue together. ReVintaged Lemon was birthed out of the creativity of this devoted couple.
Opening first downtown in the “little yellow house” at 423 North Walnut Street in October of 2017, the couple outgrew their space and two years later moved to their current location at 302 West Vine Street in June of 2019. Growing up with humble beginnings, Pete and Sylvia learned to take what they had and make something wonderful with it. “We learned to fix the things that needed repair instead of buying a replacement. We took vintage furniture that had character and charm but needed just a little love. So, we took a lemon of a furniture piece made it beautiful and useful again. Viola! ReVintaged Lemon!”
They took the opportunity during the mandatory shut down of nonessential businesses and developed a website, offering many items that can be ordered and delivered directly to your doorstep. Pete also took some time to do his own renovations inside. “Pete is a very handy guy and was able to create a wonderful space reusing building material so, we only had to buy a bucket of paint,” shares Sylvia proudly. One item Sylvia has seen customers continuing to buy while under quarantine is their Wise Owl Paint Products and especially, the incredible scents of the Furniture Salve. “People love to do projects,” Sylvia exclaimed.
“This is a very difficult time for a small business, with most of us only being able to close for three and half weeks. After that, it can be very devastating.” One of the reasons they chose to open their new store downtown was the big sense of community the couple felt. “We try our best to let everyone that comes in know about the other stores they can visit downtown. I pray that once this is over, our community will rally around these important community businesses to keep them alive and thriving.”
“Downtown was a natural selection for us and our craft. People know that most unique stores are commonplace in downtown shopping districts. It is the one area we do not mind being commonplace,” says Pete. “Main Street small businesses are just that…small. We provide a sense of community, a smiling face, friendships and it’s just a great place to spend a few minutes and grab a gift.” At ReVintaged Lemon there is a quote, “Enter as a stranger. Leave as a friend.”
With that said Pete reminds the community, “WE ARE SMALL BUSINESS. We do not have the deep pockets or staying power that corporations have. Main Street businesses are different and must be protected.” They have been amazed at the community support in the short two and half years of being open downtown. “Because of this support, we have been able to evolve in a short time to offer a diverse selection of products for your home. We choose to stay downtown because we couldn’t imagine finding a better place that fits our sense of community.”
Check out their new website at www.revintagedlemon.com and see some of the products offered for home decorating needs.
The Blue Eyed Daisy, 423 North Walnut Street
Diane Austin built upon the good fortune that little yellow house held for Sylvia and Pete and moved The Blue Eyed Daisy into the 423 North Walnut Street space.
With only six months experience of running a boutique downtown, Diane was just starting to feel confident. Starting her third career, after years of teaching music in public schools and singing professionally, Diane first began the boutique out of her home. “Things were moving into the kitchen, the dining room, you get the picture.” So, with her husband, Ben’s help, they found the perfect place to start a new business downtown.
Where did the name Blue Eyed Daisy come from? “My dear friend who was an original partner and I were trying to think of names. We thought, what do we have in common? Blue Eyes! It took a while to come up with the daisy part, and yes, our husbands had some “colorful” suggestions!”
“Opening in September of 2019, I was a downtown newbie. I love the atmosphere and the people. I hooked up with Judy from Trendy Pieces and Brittany from The Exchange and learned a lot.” Diane credits learning about being a
businesswoman and the importance of community from Brittany’s meetings at The Social Exchange called “She Social,” a free monthly event for women that are looking for a positive and uplifting community of like minds and hearts. Diane says, “I have always been an entrepreneur at heart.” When asked why downtown, “I never thought about another place. I love the area.” Diane believes there was already a transition taking place that was pro- small business. “Things are changing, and people want experiences that are uplifting and personal. I believe that trend will continue.”
Having to close her doors just a few months after opening due to the pandemic, Diane credits her husband Ben for being her biggest cheerleader. “We had the talk about all the ‘what ifs’ with the business and he looked at me and said, ‘I believe you are going to be fine. This is not your fault.’” Growing up a military brat Diane moved a million times and made new friends from around the world.
“Flexible is my middle name!” That is one reason Diane has bounced back as she is slowly reopening her shop to customers. Being one of the first store owners to reach out to the downtown community and offer to organize a live Facebook show for everyone to take part in, Diane means it when she says her biggest strategy during COVID-19 is, “staying positive and encouraging others!” She wants to continue to do live Facebook sales for those customers needing to stay in quarantine.
“Keep working! Even if it is at home. Do not stop! Plan ahead! Try not to freeze. Keep a routine of some kind. Try new things. Get out of that comfort zone,” offers Diane to her customers stuck at home right now.
Looking to the future with some innovative ideas learned during this quarantine Diane is wanting to sell online more and especially through social media. Diane wants the community to know that small businesses offer what large businesses can’t – one on one treatment, a good experience, and you will rarely have to yell, “Hey, does anybody work here?” You will not have to yell for help in the little yellow house on Walnut Street when you come to shop. The Blue Eyed Daisy has unique women’s clothes, jewelry, gifts and special presents for that new baby! Check out store hours and special items featured this week at www.theblueeyeddaisy.com.