January 28, 2013
Springfield, OR –
Downtown Springfield is a close-knit community. While there is not a lot of foot traffic in the area, the store owners and workers are friendly neighbors.
“It’s been revitalized, it’s wonderful,” says Betty Gullickson, volunteer manager at Hearts for Hospice. “The neighbors, since we’ve came, are very, very gracious and very accepting and are so happy we’re here.” The store opened last December, one of the new businesses filling empty buildings that spatter the neighborhood.
Glenn Myers, owner of Trash-n-Treasures Antiques & Collectibles, has been there longer. “We had the strip club and the bar, and lots of riff-raff, but it’s getting cleaned up. Yeah they closed those,” he says. He likes the neighbors now, though. “There’s quite a diverse bunch of people down here: different stores, there’s the art school, there’s the antique shops … the old church, they renovated it and now it’s the weekly farmer’s market.”
Marian Austin, owner of Momma’s Kitchen, likes the variety among the businesses. However, she has ideas for improvement of the area. “We need light. Darkness keeps it gloomy and depressing.”
The volunteers at Hearts for Hospice agree. “Some of the neighbors have talked about better lighting in Main Street so the stores could stay open in the evening, and I know some of them that were very interested in that. Maybe we ought to have some flower planters along the street.”
Myers has ideas along the same lines. “The parking. They could do a better job on the parking. The street-lighting,” he says. “Getting some more businesses in the empty buildings. Improving the foot traffic.”
Increasing the foot traffic would benefit all the businesses. Currently, very few pedestrians roam the stores. “I think what they need to do down here is open up something that people want to come to, like a little mini-mall or a grocery stores, to bring them in,” says Austin. She has been cooking soul food in downtown Springfield for almost four years, but still doesn’t like the look of the area. “It still looks kind of trashy. I don’t know how to say, run-down,” Austin says, “It hasn’t improved since I’ve been here, really.”
The shopkeepers in downtown Springfield are glad to be there, but could use more custom. If the city improved Main Street by increasing the lighting and aesthetics, it would increase business for the shops. The quaint and friendly area deserves more traffic.