The historic downtown district is experiencing a commercial boom

ByShannon J. Cortes

May 3, 2022

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) – Despite economic downturns across the country, historic downtown Pocahontas is coming to life with new faces all around the town square.

Each new business brings a fresh and interesting new place for locals and travelers.

“It’s a great little secret-kept town. In six months to a year, you’ll be driving down Highway 67 and stopping in Pocahontas. There’s treasures here in Pocahontas,” Donald Smith said.

His restaurant, Chef D’z Grab-N-Go, is the newest venture in the square, but he probably won’t keep that title for long.

Cally Shore of the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce said she is making a concerted effort to attract new businesses to revive the historic district.

She added that the pandemic has shown why supporting the local economy is important, and the business boom shows how engaged their residents are.

“Our community has always been very supportive. And I feel like that has stayed the same during the pandemic,” Shore said. “The community is coming together and wants to support mom and pop businesses so we can stay afloat and keep growing.”

“I understand that years ago people used to go downtown, but now they don’t. So we’re trying to bring them back downtown and check out some of the new businesses,” said Glenn Clark, owner of Mildred’s Spice Corner.

Clark’s boutique opened in 2021, and despite the pandemic, he’s not alone.

Several stores in the square opened either before the pandemic or just after it started, and yet their owners have managed to overcome the obstacles.

“We have really grown since COVID. Since then, the whole downtown started to develop,” said Carrie Barnes, owner of Gypsy Girl.

Barnes’ business opened six years ago but briefly closed during the pandemic.

However, thanks to massive community support, Gypsy Girl is still standing.

For Brent Martin, owner of Murphy Design Company, the pandemic has seen him change his business model. Her wedding planning business now includes interior design.

“It was scary. It was very scary. During COVID it was very difficult but since then it started to explode,” he said.

Several new businesses are also on the way or under construction according to Shore, including new retail spaces, restaurants and even a possible Airbnb location.

Misti Stowers, owner of Buttercream Bakery, said the sense of community goes a long way.

“The local businesses, we are all good friends. We try to promote each other and help each other any way we can. And we look forward to the growth that is yet to come,” she said.

Business owners in downtown Pocahontas have all said they don’t want to try to replicate the successes of towns like Jonesboro or Paragould. Instead, they want to pride themselves on being a unique place with businesses you won’t find anywhere else.

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