ALTON — Alton Main Street Executive Director Sara McGibany introduced an evening full of updates and announcements connected to Downtown Alton during the organization’s quarterly What’s Up Downtown meeting Aug. 16.
The capacity crowd at Jacoby Arts Center saw presentations from the owners of It’s Raining Zen and Bluff City Grill and heard several business owners give updates on the state of their shops in the downtown area.
It’s Raining Zen
Dave and Donna Nunnally have moved their New Age shop across the lobby of Mineral Springs Mall on Broadway, expanding the size and inventory and using the previous location for a new clothing shop, Indigo Moon.
The shop now inhabits 1,300 square feet of space. Much of the inventory, including candles, books, handmade jewelry, crystals and more, are provided by local vendors. Classes, services and other interactive events will be added in the coming months as well, Dave said.
The shop also has what it calls “Pay It Forward Thursdays,” where a random customer throughout the day will receive his or her purchase for free. In return, the shop asks that customer to spend that amount of money saved by paying it forward.
“The only thing I ask is whatever you were going to spend with me, spend that somewhere else in the community who needs it,” Dave Nunnally said. “If your purchase was $10, spend that on some meals for someone who is homeless. If it was more than that, maybe pay for an animal adoption for someone who cannot afford the adoption fee.”
The owners also are involved in the addition of a new mural scheduled to be unveiled in the coming weeks in the lobby of Mineral Springs Mall.
Bluff City Grill
Construction is well under way at the future location of Bluff City Grill Restaurant and Bar. Owner Cathy Gross said carpet has been ripped up, floors are being finished, and walls are going up in what will serve as the main dining room.
All of the wood paneling has been removed from the former home of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 254 at 424 E. Broadway, and drywall has been installed. There also will be an updated kitchen, handicap access, and a gaming room separate from the bar area so those younger than 21 will no longer be restricted to that section of the restaurant.
Gross said the biggest hurdle was probably the roof repairs, which need to be redone. She anticipates those repairs to be done by October.
“Gutting was real work, but this is the fun part — building this place back up again,” she said.
At more than 24,000 square feet, the two-story structure will offer dual-story parking and banquet hall and is more than twice the size of the current location at 102 W. Ninth St. Gross said she hopes to have the new location open by Halloween.
Grassroots Grocery, celebrating its one-year anniversary, is looking to hire a full-time general manager to oversee day-to-day activities, hiring, inventory and bookkeeping. Candidates should also have customer service and retail experience.
The full-service, cooperative food store at 415-A Ridge St. in Alton, focused on healthy eating and local community support, also is on the lookout for members. For $100 per year (family members can partake in the membership), community members have access to store discounts, classes, samplings, ordering privileges and more.
There also will be a member party, open to the public, on Aug. 28. For more information on any of the developments or how to apply for the manager position, visit grassrootsgrocery.org or call (618) 208-4999.
Wish and Wear Dress Rentals
Currently located in the rear section of The Gift Box, Wish and Wear Dress Rentals owner Abby Ontis announced she has purchased the building at 11 E. Broadway (the former location of CMAX Photography) and plans to have the business, offering rental for special occasion dresses with cleaning included, moved to its new home by the second week of September.
In addition, Ontis said Dance Things and More will once again have a physical location and share the space with Wish and Wear.
The Gift Box
The shop, stocked with gift ideas from local vendors, has a new owner.
Marci Thomas purchased the business from former owner Andrea Abbott and said she will continue to serve the area with the items and service Abbott provided for the last five years, while also adding additional inventory from local vendors.
Thomas said there is space for more vendors and anyone interested can contact her at email@example.com or the Facebook page.
Olive Oil Marketplace
Olive Oil Marketplace, 108 W. Third St. in Alton, announced it is expanding to add a second location in Belleville.
Co-owner Tim Meeks said he and his wife, Julie, anticipate adding four new employees to accommodate the additional business, and also will be adding new products to store shelves at the Alton location.
Bossanova closed for repairs
Because of a pipe break on the building’s third floor, Bossanova Martini Lounge in downtown Alton will be closed for the next week or two to accommodate repairs, McGibany said.