‘Tis the season for gifts. The Urban Districts Alliance office often feels like the center city branch of the North Pole: brainstorming lights for the renewed Public Square in July; calling choirs for caroling in August; and booking horse drawn carriage rides in September. We were relieved in October when Santa confirmed he would be available again this year for both Candyland and the Christmas Parade.
Small businesses have a similar ability as Santa to share their gifts. Downtown Springfield is a melting pot of artists, culinary artisans and fashion sellers.
For instance, father-and-son Terry and Gabe Bloodworth at Springfield Hot Glass demonstrate their craft in the shop daily as they create jewelry, vases and ornaments; Red Velvet – founded by Elsie Larson, Rachel Denbow and Emma Chapman – has grown from selling homemade accessories at music festivals to becoming an internationally known independent label of vintage-inspired fashions on Commercial Street and at ShopRedVelvet.com
; and Nathan Taylor and J. Martin at Obelisk Home showcase interior design products that are featured at retailers nationwide.
Daily Events publisher Jeff Schrag has converted an old bread factory into the thriving Mother’s Brewing Co. that offers bottles at most major retailers locally as well as pints in its tasting room. Shawn Askinosie, an attorney-turned chocolate maker, founded the small-batch Askinosie Chocolate, and he travels the world to get 100 percent of his beans directly from the farmers.
One of the fashion pioneers in the downtown retail renaissance was Meghan Chambers of Staxx. She and her staff bring unique and contemporary apparel to Springfield. Newcomer Bryan Simpson at Five Pound Apparel offers a clothing store with a purpose. With every shirt sold, the company donates five pounds of peanut butter to fight malnutrition.
Retailers are ready to share their style, vision and creativity now and throughout the year.
Supporting locally owned small businesses is the gift that keeps on giving. —Rusty Worley, Urban Districts Alliance