Despite the downturn in the national economy, the past year saw a number of new businesses start up in Marietta and the surrounding area.
Charlotte Keim, president of Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, said 2010 was a very mixed year in terms of the business climate she observed in the Marietta area.
"It was a very difficult year to get a handle on the overall business atmosphere in Marietta," she said.
Keim talked to some businesses that were struggling and also those that were doing well. As the year progressed, there were more signs that things were starting to turn around which could mean some positive things for 2011, she said.
Industry and commercial construction and their related businesses were having a difficult year in 2010, Keim said. However, small contractors were doing better because people were investing more in their existing homes rather than buying new ones, with a related hit on the housing sales market, she said.
The retail scene was very mixed, without any clear trends she could see, Keim said. What she did observe seemed to follow national trends, with car sales dipping, big box store sales dipping but specialty stores doing well.
One of the new businesses which opened in Marietta during the past year was A Unique Flower and Gift Shop, located at 152 Front St. in downtown Marietta.
Owner Cheryl Lang opened the shop on June 1, 2010, to serve as both a gift shop and a florist. Lang, who previously owned a shop in Beverly about a decade ago, said the location on Front Street had everything she wanted when she decided to open a new business in downtown Marietta. The historic buildings and the other shops in the area are attractive to many people, she said.
Since her opening, Lang said there has been a good response from customers. She is hoping for a positive year in 2011 and her customers have seemed satisfied. She plans to continuing looking for new products and services she can offer to them in the future.
According to the Marietta chamber, some of the other businesses that opened, changed ownership or re-opened in 2010 and joined the chamber included: Bar-Be-Cutie, Cool Containers LLC, Triad Engineering, Jane A. Cases MD, Miche Bags, No Idea Sports Dining, Over the Moon Pizzeria, Petland Marietta, Strategic Personal Finance LLC, The Anchor, Wayne's Computer World, Brutus and Co. BBQ, Sugar Coated Cake Co., Norwood Antique Loft, Outpost Bar and Grille, Ace Lock Safe and Security, Pristine Pools and Spa, Riverside Artists, Marietta Wine Cellar, Front Street Deli and Bakery, Buckeye Carpet, Amy Gentry Photography, Hair of the Dog, Parks and Gallery, M&D Horses, Marietta Hotdog Co. and Your Kids First Learning Center and Child Care.
Looking ahead at 2011, Keim said she knows of several chain stores scheduled to open in the new year in the Marietta area.
"It is encouraging to see such signs that companies are interested in coming into the area," she said.
Two new businesses, Family Dollar and Hibbett Sporting Goods, will be moving into Marietta's Lafayette Center on Pike Street.
The Family Dollar store is tentatively slated to open by the end of March and is moving into the space previously occupied by Dollar General, which closed last fall.
Josh Braverman, spokesman for Charlotte, N.C.-based Family Dollar, said the company acquired the 7,200-square-foot space in the Lafayette Center in August.
"That's an average size for our stores," he said.
Family Dollar is a corporate-owned store that sells a wide variety of merchandise, including groceries, clothing, health and beauty products, seasonal merchandise and much more, according to Braverman. He said the decision to locate a store in Marietta came after some research of the area.
"We consider properties based on a lot of factors, but one major question we ask is whether a community needs a value and services retailer like ours," Braverman said. "Our concept seems to fit well in that area. And we're excited about joining other businesses in the Lafayette Center."
The store will employ between five and seven people from the local area, including a couple of managers.
Hibbett Sporting Goods recently opened its doors in Marietta.
According to Jessica Casto, spokeswoman for the Alabama-based company, Hibbett provides a selection of sporting goods meeting the needs of the communities in which the stores are located, according to the company website at www.hibbett.com. Some name brands the company carries include Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Under Armour, Fossil, K-Swiss, Reebok, Adams, Asics, Oakley, Puma, Rawlings, Wilson, Louisville Slugger, Jansport, Brand Jordan, BoFlex, Everlast, and others.