Two new business have opened in recent weeks in downtown Mount Clemens, adding to an eclectic mix of establishments in Macomb County's county seat and bringing to 10 the total of new operations to open in the last eight months.
Gibbons Bakery, once an institution in The Clem, reopened under new ownership near the end of 2010. It's run by a family of Yugoslav immigrants who decided to revive the bakery that gave them jobs, taught them English and brought them opportunity when they came to the U.S. in the 1990s. With the return of Gibbons and its beloved cherry nut bars, downtown gets back a piece of its history that began with the original bakery debut in 1929.
On Thursday, Gemini Moon, a metaphysical and spiritual supply store and gift shop, became the 10th business to open since May.
The openings along with the relocation of the Box Theater from an upper level space to the ground floor has halved downtown's ground floor vacancy rate from 31 percent in May 2010 to 15 percent, says Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority.
Mullen says a deliberate recruitment and marketing effort and regular DDA events and activities that draw crowds downtown have paid off. It's "never just luck with these things. You create a welcoming and active district, and investment will follow. We've been focused on that for several years."
He also credits an appetite among businesses for walkable downtown districts over suburban strip malls.
"Downtowns have been doing much better than suburban commercial strip buildings and malls due to several other reasons," Mullen says.
Plans to bring in more business and more people continue. "We will be expanding the attraction efforts over the next four months with a revamped website, business attraction folder, and direct contacts with prospective businesses."
Source: Arthur Mullen, executive director Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority
Writer: Kim North Shine