While Montgomery Bell State Park and other attractions draw people to Dickson County from all over Middle Tennessee, a retail boom in the area is creating a spike in jobs and amenities that finds visitors, mom-and-pop startups, and national stores and restaurants looking to put down roots.
Big Plans for the Future
The Crossings at Dickson is a new retail center located between Highway 46 and Beasley Drive. Local attorney and The Crossings developer Eric Thorton sees the project as a score for both the future of the region and the fortunes of its residents.
“Dickson County acts as a hub for folks in surrounding counties,” Thorton says. “The arrival of these new retail tenants and restaurants allows folks to shop and eat right here in Dickson without having to travel to Nashville. It's created a lot of good jobs, raised sales tax revenues and serves our established local businesses by increasing the traffic they're exposed to.”
Currently, The Crossings counts Petco, Marshalls, Ross, Shoe Dept./Encore, Papa Murphy's Pizza, Hobby Lobby, Mattress Firm, Verizon and Buffalo Wild Wings among its tenants.
Jana Curcio lives in downtown Dickson where she's a neighborhood spokesperson. In 2010 Curcio and her husband, Anthony – who was raised in Dickson – relocated to the area from Washington, D.C., to raise their children in the small town. In 2014 the couple constructed the first mixed-use downtown building Dickson had seen in a century. The couple sold an adjacent lot to the city, and the space has been transformed into the Tom Waychoff Memorial Park.
“Our city leaders want that property to be the gemstone of downtown,” Curcio says. “It's right on a central corner where people can congregate. The park will be playing a big role in Dickson's seasonal celebrations; we'll have our community Christmas tree there, and it will be used for our BooFest trick-or-treating at Halloween, our Thanksgiving Fun Run and our community chalk art festivities in the summer.”
Of course bringing people downtown won't be successful without providing safety and convenience, but in 2015 city officials made a lease agreement with a local property owner to establish a public parking lot at the corner of College and Church streets.
“A lot of money from the city and state has revitalized the streetscape, which has created a ton more foot traffic,” Curcio says. “The new parking lot is a beautiful space – if you make a lot pretty and have a nice sidewalk, people will want to park there.”
Thriving Through Service
While an influx of national chains can raise concern about competing with small businesses, many independent retailers remain confident there's room for everyone.
Julian Esh, who manages the Country View Market in Charlotte, says service is the key to small businesses sustaining the boom in the region.
“Customer service rates high here, and we have a lot of locals we know well who've given us a loyal following,” Esh says. “We have lots of folks in for lunch – you can't go anywhere in Dickson without hearing about our sandwiches.”
The store added a big warehouse two years ago, and Esh says expanding even further would be no problem if they were located on an even bigger lot.
“We can't expand much more on our existing property,” Esh says. “But we could easily double or maybe even triple our size, and we'd have plenty of business to support it.”