October 7, 2010

Memphis City Square on The Rise Despite Recent Set Back

Whether you want to blame Mother Nature, Father Time or Lady Justice, Memphis has two less vacant properties on the city square.

But even before the disastrous collapse of an abandoned building on the south corner of the east side of the square trimmed the number of available sites by two, commercial real estate in the uptown business district was becoming much more difficult to come by, as more than half a dozen businesses relocated to the square in 2010.

The Memphis Mercantile is the latest new business to open its doors in Memphis. Located in the former Little Fox outdoor shop in the middle of the south side of the square, the Memphis Mercantile offers a wide variety of sewing supplies, arts and crafts and children’s toys.

Owners Harlan and Shirley Kurtz, and their son James operate the store that officially opened on September 7th.

The inventory expanded just prior to the opening, when Shirley’s brother-in-law from Pennsylvania took advantage of the rear storeroom to create a show room for his used furniture business.

“We weren’t too sure how it was going to go, but so far the furniture has been very popular,” Shirley said.

The store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

The Mercantile is flanked by a pair of new businesses.

Ketchum Heating and Cooling has returned an appliance store to the square after a brief hiatus.

Jessie Ketchum purchased the former Scott’s Home Center building this spring, in a process that brought two new stores to the city square.

Scott Wickert, the former owner, purchased the old city hall building on the south end of the west side of the square to house his cellular phone business, Scott’s Cellular.

That opened the door for Ketchum to purchase the appliance end of the business, which had been out of business for more than a year after Wickert lost his service repairman.

Store manager Marsha Monroe handles the sales of new Whirlpool, Maytag, Kitchen Aid and Crosley refrigerators, ranges, freezers and microwaves.

The store offers a full line of service in addition to heating, cooling and electrical work performed by Ketchum and his staff.

Two doors down to the west, Hair Co. has set up shop in the former Scotland County Pharmacy building. Michele Garnett, Beth Boyer and Jenny Kerkmann combine to offer more than 60 years of experience.

Garnett purchased Aryls & Company, earlier this year, and soon after relocated the style salon to its present location.

That created an opening for the fourth new business on the west side of the square.

Patrick’s opened on the west end of the square’s south side three months ago, after 28 years of housing Arlys & Company.

“This left a totally empty building on the square,” said building owner Pat Parsons. “We racked our brains for something that Memphis needed or wanted and came up with a shop that specialized in ice cream and treats.”

Patrick’s offers hand-made cones, waffle bowls, cotton candy, giant pretzels, nachos, Otis Spunkmyer cookies, hurricanes, malts, shakes, sundaes and banana splits.

“Obviously you have to have something more than ice cream to pay the help, so we created sandwiches and a style of food that was not in competition with any other business in town. That was most important to us,”’ said Pat.

New to the menu this week is Made Wrongs, ground beef sandwiches. Other menu items include soups and sandwiches, and a soup/sandwich combo of the day featuring the likes of beans with ham hocks and cornbread, potato soup, clam chowder, chili and much more. Sandwiches include chicken, ham and tuna salad served on croissants, sandwich wraps and Western’s hand-breaded tenderloins.

“Along with the Made Wrongs, we have taco’s, Frito pie (both mild and spicy), hot dogs, chili dogs, taco salads and walking tacos,” said Pat. “One of our hottest sellers is fried dill pickles and fried green beans. Coming soon, deep fried snickers and Twinkies.”

That side of the square was so full, Rick Hunt and his family had to go an entire block off the southeast corner of the square to find the perfect location for their new business, Rick’s Service.

It didn’t hurt that the site was the home of a former service station, lending itself perfectly to the new business.

“We were blessed to have this location be available at this time in our lives when our family was ready to make this move,” said Rick, who along with his son Justin, provide auto mechanic services at the new business.

This is the second run for Rick’s Service, which was in business on Highway 136 in Memphis from 1993 until 1998 when Rick entered the law enforcement ranks.

He returned to his roots, working the past 12 years for Harris Motors, before opening his own shop in July.

“This is something I grew up doing,” he said. “We had a shop in Bible Grove, so I’ve been around cars and trucks pretty much my whole life.”

Rick’s Service is certified to perform Missouri state vehicle safety inspections. Rick and Justin also offer tire sales in addition to air conditioner work and general mechanic services.

Two new shingles have been displayed on the west side of the square in 2010. Scott’s Cellular opened on the south corner in May.

April Wilson, Attorney at Law, relocated her Memphis office to the former license bureau office near the other end of the square.

The office opened its doors at the new location in the last week of June.

While they moved less than a block to the new location, office manager Lana Whitney noted it has been very nice to be on the square.

The law office locked up the final available store front on that side of the square.

The Memphis City Council met September 30th to discuss the future of the south end of the east side of the square. The aldermen are considering options for cleanup of the debris, as they move to clear the site for possible future development that will depend upon resolution of promised legal action to finally resolve ownership of the property and the financial responsibilities that attach to that ownership for clean-up and damages caused by the September 16th disaster.

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