In Downtown Wilmington, New Businesses Open, On Way

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Dec 7, 2020

From retail to a new salon, Wilmington continues to gain new businesses despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In downtown Wilmington, more businesses have opened during the pandemic than have closed, and downtown consumers are still coming in, said Dane Scalise, board chair of Wilmington Downtown Inc.

“Many people have suffered personally and professionally this year. That obviously includes the folks who live and work in downtown. And we sincerely grieve for those businesses that are struggling or now closed; each loss is uniquely unacceptable,” Scalise said in an email. “But there are also positives to highlight.”

Some of those wins include the opening of A1A 1579 Boutique, where the owner plans to expand its inventory of specialty clothing, shoes and accessories for men and women, according to a news release. The shop at 3 S. Second St. also carries art, as well as custom-designed apparel.

“The name of our business points to a level of luxury items (A1Atelier) and also to a favorite combination of lucky numbers,” said Zyvion Latham, owner of A1A 1579 Boutique, in the release.

The shop is located in a new building at Market and Second streets.

Along with A1A, WDI also recently celebrated the opening of City Gypsy Boutique at 119 S. Water St. in The Old City Market. Co-owners Catrina Tomisch and Ariana Fronti opened the boutique, which sells clothing, jewelry, accessories and art.

Another downtown business, Stone Cellar Management, has opened at 225 S. Water St. The business, a management and record label firm, recently combined its record company Creative Code Entertainment to offer a range of services, from talent search and handling distribution to promotion and merchandising, stated a news elease.

WDI officials, along with other local leaders, are scheduled to celebrate Stone Cellar’s opening later this week.

“We wanted to make sure that we were honoring those brave folks who have elected to open new businesses during the COVID-era. Not only because these new businesses are exciting and fun, but also because it reminds people that downtown Wilmington, both new shops and fan favorites, remains fully ‘open for business.’ We know that if you are reminded about positivity in downtown, you are likely to come to downtown soon,” Scalise said. “When you come out to downtown to check out a new business, you’re likely to swing by one or two other businesses as well."

Citrus Salon, an Aveda salon, is slated to open in River Place in downtown Wilmington.

Citrus Salon's Alex May, a master stylist who has worked in exclusive salons, has established a following in the Wilmington area, stated a news release. May is leasing the space, with plans to open the salon in mid-2021.

During the buildout of her salon, May is still operating out of a temporary location, stated the release.

Terry Espy, president of MoMentum Companies, said that May didn't want to go anywhere else but downtown, given the client base and growing population of downtown Wilmington. The announcement follows another business named to the River Place line-up, restaurant Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Another project soon to come to downtown will be in the redevelopment of the former Serpentarium building at  20 Orange St. by Donald S. Bland, a longtime dentist in the downtown area who has created a dental practice, medispa and residence out of the building.

"I think we have a proven track record thus far with the restaurants, and some of the businesses and retail that we have. But we are going to see some hope evolving through these COVID times," said Espy, who is also president of the local nonprofit group Downtown Business Alliance (DBA). 

Espy said Monday that Bland's project is slated to be completed this week, and the practice is anticipated to be open before the holidays.

MoMentum did the turn-key project management, design and construction management for the project, Espy said. 

"There is a lot happening," she said, adding that more announcements are expected to come soon.

Scalise said, “I am completely confident that downtown will continue to bring economic growth and development to the region because I know the individuals who make up the fabric of downtown are too resilient to let it be otherwise.”

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