More Decatur businesses opting for downtown locations

May 22, 2017

From The Decatur Daily
by Evan Belanger

Efforts to revitalize downtown have attracted two existing Decatur businesses to the area: a jewelry store and yarn store.

Meanwhile, a new holistic pet food store has opened on 14th Street Southeast, and a local aerospace engineer has launched a custom tool-making company specializing in firearms tools.

Jamie Hood Jewelers is relocating to downtown, moving from Beltline Road to Bank Street after nearly five years in the city.

Having outgrown its Beltline Road location, the jeweler is targeting a date in June to move into its new home at 722 Bank St. N.E.

The relocation will put a jewelry store on the historic commercial corridor for the first time in years. The space was most recently home to a medical practice but was once the site of another jeweler.

“There’s just so much going on in that area. We’re really excited about it,” said store manager Lydia Hood. “And it’s kind of cool to bring that history back to the spot.”

The new location nearly doubles the size of the store’s showroom and provides more space for custom jewelry work, said Hood, who noted sales at the Decatur store were up more than 30 percent this year over last.

The move comes during a period of increased activity on Bank Street, the city’s earliest commercial and cultural center.

In addition to a host of new shops, two Nashville developers are expected to break ground soon on Bank Street Station, which will consist of eight luxury urban cottages at Bank and Cherry streets.

Other recent investments include a $3 million project by a Las Vegas developer to convert the former Amberley Suite Hotel on Bank Street into upscale apartments catering to retirees. A subsequent $3 million second phase of that project is planned.

The jeweler’s planned relocation comes after another city business, Yarn Boutique of Decatur, already has made the move downtown, locating at 302 Second Ave. S.E. last month.

“Decatur’s downtown is coming back, and I like what I see. That’s why I’m here,” said Yarn Boutique owner Sylvia Johnson.

The yarn store is across the street from a set of 10 new loft apartments being marketed by brothers George and Emmette Barran, both local real estate developers, as well as the site of a new downtown market planned by restaurant owner Tyler Jones.

Johnson consolidated her yarn stores in Rainbow City and on 14th Street Southeast in Decatur to the Second Avenue location.

As some businesses move toward the city center, others are taking their places outside the downtown area.

After moving her yarn store downtown, Johnson opened this week The Pet Food Store at her old location at 518 14th St. S.E. The store is managed by David Ancel, a former sales representative for Nutro-brand pet food.

The store carries holistic and premium-brand dog and cat foot not currently available at other stores in the area, such as Canine Caviar and California Natural, Ancel said.

“We’re working with different veterinarians to provide alternate food choices for them to try,” he said, noting many of the foods are prescribed by vets to help with skin conditions, diabetes, kidney problems, cancer and other health problems.

Ancel said he is looking to add homemade treats to his inventory and is considering adding a muscle-building brand of dog food if there is enough demand.

Another new Decatur business is operating from the garage of a Decatur aerospace engineer. Nathan Whitfield said he got into tool making by machining custom tools for his own firearms but found so many of his friends were asking for the parts he had to start charging for the service.

“I didn’t intend to get into the tool business and all of the sudden I was,” he said, noting that increased customization of firearms has created a demand for specialized tools not available in stores.

Whitfield officially launched NAAH Tool Works last month and has been selling tools over the internet, filling orders from as far away as California.

In addition to firearms tools, he said he can fabricate tools for other applications such as outboard motors or anything where a specialized tool is needed. He said he is considering outsourcing some production to focus more on development.

“At some point, business is getting high enough that I just about can’t keep up,” he said.