ANTWERP, Ohio - (FOX 55) Antwerp may seem like a cliche of a small town. One traffic light on main street, one school, and a few churches but what you won't find is a lack of downtown development.
Marilyn Provines used to own the flower shop in town until 2017 when she retired. She's part of the generation handing over the keys to the younger people.
She said, "When I sold my store, I sold it to someone who likes it as much as I did and she's flourishing and people are going there again. It hurt us when the big box stores opened in Fort Wayne and Defiance, because we're right in the middle. So, there's life here again. It's good"
In the place of a Dairy Queen, you'll find KB Scoops, and if you need small nik-naks or custom furniture refurbishment, &Junque is your place.
Anne Cline, the owner of &Junque says she remembers the dwindling of her downtown and part of the revitalization has been thanks to nostalgia.
"This is the place we grew up. I mean all of the young business owners in town that are new, we grew up here and a lot of the things had either closed or we just don't have a lot to do," said Cline.
Small businesses in downtown Antwerp have been springing up like flowers. Three of them opened their doors in the past 30 days and in a town of under 2000 people, it's helping keeping Antwerp alive.
But, just like flowers, they need to be nurtured to stay alive, and with the help of the newly formed chamber of commerce and Paulding County Economic Development INC., they've given people the support, education, and courage to grow their small business.
Audrey Feasby, the president of the Antwerp Chamber of Commerce says besides the financial support, they've been helping drum up business, saying "There's been a lot of support and things like "we'll give you free publicity. We'll come to your business. We'll do a ribbon cutting. We'll put you in the paper. We'll amp up your business for this and that and this activity.""
These types of groups are partly behind the economic drive in small communities, but there's another reason according to Cline.
"We have children now, so we want a place for our kids to have great memories and a great place for our kids to grow up."
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