Downtown Murfreesboro Offers Thriving Retailers, Restaurants and Night Scene

 Bella's Boutique Downtown Murfreesboro, TN
Bella's Boutique Downtown Murfreesboro, TN

Fun and festive. Charming and vibrant.

Those are words regularly used to describe Murfreesboro’s thriving downtown, with its eclectic mix of homegrown restaurants, imaginative shops and hot nightspots.

“What’s not to love about our downtown?” says Kathleen Herzog, a former downtown volunteer who is now director of the Main Street program. “It’s beautiful, with its redone sidewalks and streetlamps, hanging baskets in the spring, banners in the fall, Christmas decorations and great business mix. And it’s just hot!”

Farmers Market Opens In June

The downtown Farmers Market, the Saturday Market, enters its second year in 2011, and Herzog is confident it will be even bigger and better than 2010. “It’s made downtown Murfreesboro a destination, and it is ridiculously successful,” she says.

Local farmers and craftspeople turn up by the dozens on Saturday mornings from June through September, luring hundreds of people to the square, where they not only peruse locally harvested produce but also enjoy the wares of downtown restaurants and retailers. Herzog is hoping to extend the market into October.

“The merchants love it,” Herzog says. “It’s drawing people into their stores on a day when business typically was slow for the downtown. They go to the market, then hang around and enjoy the atmosphere.”

Downtown activist and retailer Judy Goldie agrees. “It’s amazing,” says the owner of Trendy Pieces and Bella’s Boutique. “It has become alive with people who enjoy a day to walk around the square.”

Goldie is a veteran retailer, who opened a consignment shop, Phase II, in another section of town more than 22 years ago. When downtown Murfreesboro started taking off, she looked around and decided her next investment would be in the heart of the community. Three years ago, she located Trendy Pieces in the oldest building downtown, dating back to 1810, then opened Bella’s Boutique next door in 2010 after an extensive restoration.

Downtown Businesses Are Expanding

At a time when most communities were suffering a downturn, Goldie and other merchants were expanding their businesses in 2010.

“Instead of hunkering down and waiting out the recession, three people opened additional downtown businesses, and we had three other businesses that moved from the suburbs to the square,” Herzog says. As a result, streetfront vacancies are rare.

Activities such as May’s Jazzfest, June’s Taste of Rutherford, fall’s Evening on Maple and a variety of Christmas events not only help the merchants, but they are helping to create a 24-hour downtown. Restaurants and nightspots such as Maple Street Grill, Uncorked and Liquid Smoke are drawing people to the square after regular business hours. Maple Street's owners opened Uncorked, a lounge upstairs from their restaurant, and are ardent supporters of Murfreesboro's vibrant live music scene.

“We want to be a 24-hour square, with professionals and retailers, bankers and business people in the day, lunch and dinner crowds and a night scene,” Herzog says. “To do that, we need people living downtown. We are working with property owners and local government to see what we have to do to make that happen, with lofts in the second and third floors of our buildings available and accessible for living.”

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