Waving a magic wand…

by The Flossip on September 4, 2013

in Things to do in Florence, SC

We had a consultant once that asked us what we wanted if we could wave a magic wand and make it happen…

So today’s “wave your magic wand” question is this: If you could wave a magic wand, what retailers and businesses would you want downtown?”

I want more local places to eat. I loved going to Greenville recently and having choice after choice of bars and restaurants. I wish there was a HandPicked jewelry downtown. I wish there was a gift shop downtown. I personally want to open a book store….

What about you– what do you want to see downtown?

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 GR September 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Check out construction on where the boutique will go downtown!


2 GR September 11, 2013 at 11:06 am

1031 American Grill is a family friendly restaurant specializing in gourmet burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, handcut fries, salads, vintage rootbeer floats, soft serve ice cream, and many other tasty side iterms. It is located in Historic Downtown Florence across the street from the new Florence County Museum.


3 Craig September 11, 2013 at 7:22 am

@Tim I’ve heard Walgreen’s is going where Percy and Willie’s restaurant is. The 1031 grill will have hot dogs and hamburgers gourmet style, from what i have heard.

4 kev September 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm

A soccer complex would be a great addition bringing in families into the area to spend money at hotels, restaurants etc. and contribute to the tax base, but once again no planning, the facilities should have all been located in a area in close to the hotels and restaurants. Could you imagine Freedom Florence, the tennis center, a soccer complex all located next to one another instead of on opposite sides of town, make it convenient for the visitor (a soccer complex at 95/76, with very few accommodations nearby, put it next to the tennis center) These facilities will compete for events with places like the new complex going up in North Myrtle Beach, you have to provide the infrastructure and make it easy for the visitors to get to the places they want to go. Florence has so much potential with our interstate access; we just need the planning and vision to make it happen!

5 kev September 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

A multipurpose stadium combined with the PAC, library , a new medical school, and venues that attract art festivals, music festivals, pecan festival etc. and are all centrally located within walking distance surrounding downtown would be a huge draw for business. (a splash pad is great idea, we so need a children’s museum, we want children and families downtown) When business locate, they look for the # of households in 3 or 5 mile radius of where they are locating and the traffic count; downtown does not have either of those, it needs venues to attract the people. The events at the above mentioned venues would allow business to plan on influxes of people. Business likes certainty like a influx of people for the pecan festival. Lack of planning and vision has been Florence’s problem for decades, but hopefully its changing

6 Tim September 10, 2013 at 3:09 pm

What’s the scoop on 1031 American Grill? Can someone give me some insight into what type of place it will be, menu, etc?

7 Tim September 10, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Another question. Sorry for the intrusion.

How many “tourists” does Florence get? Could a SC-themed gift shop survive in downtown? Just a question I’ve had for awhile.

8 Tim September 10, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I think we’re all on the same page wanting to have more activities downtown, more reasons to go there and more choices for food, drink and shopping. Apart from what’s been mentioned already, is there more that people want to see? What about apartments/condos for young professionals? Would downtown be a good place to put something like that? I like the live music idea. Could a bar/pub that can also serve as a live music venue survive in downtown?

9 Fran September 10, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Well I hate to disagree with no one using the library. I, for one, does use the beautiful library often and so do many others. You can tell that when you go and the parking lot is full. That is many nights a week and on the w/e’s. I also don’t believe that only a stadium would bring people downtown but the PAC and Little Theater and events that go on will help do the job. Just getting people down there to walk around and see what’s going on will help. Yes, a variety of different restaurants and shops will bring people. Not everyone wants to have to drive out to the Mall area to go out to eat or shop. JMHO.

10 real pee dee news September 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

I said long long ago that instead of a library that no one uses…a beautiful multipurpose outdoor sports stadium should have been built downtown. It could have been used for the redwolves, high school football, baseball, and softball, as well as outdoor concerts etc. Then more small businesses would follow like restaurants, retail, etc…you have to have a reason for people to go downtown. restaurants alone will not achieve this. The medical school plan is a step in the right direction, but there needs to be much more parking and places to live. I think downtown missed the opportunity for a stadium because there is one in the plans at 76/95 corridor along with the awesome new soccer complex. This was the young property purchased by bruce and lee.

11 Jonathan September 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

@ Matt H

Many businesses make their money during peak periods. You don’t have to have a steady stream of people 12 months a year. High school football runs from mid August to December, that is quite a bit of dedicated business and as a bonus, people will eat at restaurants and shop at stores they would never have known were there. Any business will tell you increased foot traffic is good, and that is what you would be doing with a football stadium.

12 Matt H September 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

I don’t see how having the high school football stadium downtown would attract more busineses given there are only so many football games during the year. And a lot of people don’t care about football especially high school football especially West Florence high school football. :)

I know this is heresy but I think at this point the true “downtown” area of Florence is 5 points. Why not continue to develop that area rather than try to revitalize the historic downtown where most people never go? It is too bad the historic downtown isn’t closer to Timrod park, that would have given Flotown more of an Aiken feel to it.

13 Jonathan September 6, 2013 at 9:56 am

One last thing and then I’m done, I still think many people are approaching this as, “put more businesses down there and people will go.” From a business perspective that is risky. The key is to increase foot traffic, and then I guarantee you businesses will be lining up to fill those spots. If I am a business owner today, and I have the choice to open at the mall or downtown, I am probably picking the mall 9 times out of 10 just because I know more people will pass my door. We need to put more events downtown that we know bring people.

Like football games :)

14 Tim September 6, 2013 at 8:42 am

Cassandra and others,

The downtown revitalization has started and it’s just beginning to heat up. My hope is that people who haven’t been downtown in awhile make the trip for the many events, museum, PAC and the neat little shops and restaurants that are starting to spring up.

Hopefully, the more people go downtown, the more people will want to invest there and be part of the revitalization. If we want it to succeed we need to support and nurture it.

Ok, enough of my soapbox ramblings. Anything else that people want to see there?

15 Kate September 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm

My above comment was not supposed to have question marks! Oops…that what I get for typing with my pup in my lap.

16 Cassandra September 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm

I would love to see more restaurants, and neat little shops to browse in after a meal. (gourmet deli, neat brewery, gift shop, kitchen shop. clothes boutique) Greenville and Charleston are great, and are on a larger scale, but there are other towns the size of Florence that have been able to accomplish revitalizing their downtown. We just need more places and options in order to attract people. Once it starts, I think it will catch on and be great.

17 Kate September 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm

So sorry Tim! Of course! On West Evans, if you are looking at Hotel Florence it is the building to the right. ????

18 Tim September 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Hey Kate,

Thanks for sharing. For those that may not know buildings by name, which one is the Barringer building?

19 Kate September 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Hey ya’ll! I am the owner of the women’s boutique mentioned above that is moving into the Barringer building. I am so excited to be a part of the revitalization of downtown. I grew up in the historical part of downtown Baltimore and love that Florence is coming together to reinvent themselves in a way that benefits all of us. We just need to give it a chance! My husband grew up in Florence and I have seen so much change in the 11 years we have lived here. All for the better in my opinion.
So many of you have great ideas and I encourage any of you to come and try all of the great events featured downtown. My family has had a blast every time we have had the opportunity to attend Florence after Five or The Farmers Market. We are really looking forward to the many events to come.
My boutique will open in December and will feature women’s clothing and accessories at affordable price points and in a wide range of sizes. I believe everyone deserves something fabulous, affordable and that makes them feel special! I’m so excited to bring my fun and sometimes funky style to downtown. Looking forward to shopping with you Florence!!!!

20 Heather September 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Places to shop like there are in downtown Aiken.

21 Brice September 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I think Florence is doing a great job promoting downtown through live music events to draw crowds and let potential business owners and entrepreneurs envision the possibilities of starting or moving their businesses there.
A nice stadium for local high schools to use for football and soccer would be great and could be situated just to the north of downtown so you could get back and forth by foot, which might also be a draw for youth tournaments and/or camps, and designed to accommodate outdoor concerts, too.
I have nothing against chain restaurants or outlets, but these would be better situated closer to Palmetto in order to benefit from weekend beach traffic passing through. Out of town passersby might not stop for locally owned businesses like they would for recognizable brands, but once they stop and get out their car, they might venture over and support the local businesses.
Since it was asked, if I had a magic wand and money was no hurdle, I’d do a rooftop putt-putt, with the final hole crossing over the road or something that might get national publicity and motivate beach traffic to stop while coming through Florence. Or something ridiculous like a Spider Man experience for kids, with zip lines from one building to the next that would get publicized all over the place.
Getting rid of above ground power lines, starting downtown, and spreading outward until they’re all gone would do wonders for the beauty of our city, but not sure how financially feasible that is.

22 Fran September 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

@Tim..gezz..your talking about my era! I would love to see an old time soda fountain/ice cream palor show up. It would be great fun to show the kids today what it use to be like :) I think it would be a blast and I’m sure people would love it!

23 Tim September 5, 2013 at 1:55 pm


I agree for the most part about no chains. However, what if a good, regional chain store wanted to come downtown. Would having 1 or 2 of these damper the rest of the downtown area? I’m not talking Dick’s Sporting Goods or Old Navy but rather something more regional in the Carolinas.

24 Tim September 5, 2013 at 1:53 pm

What about an old fashioned soda counter/ice cream parlor. I’m envisioning something straight out of the 1950′s. Would that be a draw? Would people patronize it?

25 Tim September 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I see some folks talking about a park or park space. What about something more unusual like a dog park or a splash pad for kids on a hot day? Would that work downtown or near downtown?

26 Ashley September 5, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Local pizzeria, dive bar, ice cream shop, so much more! Oh, and definitely a park with a playground. Yes, Victor’s and Hotel Florence are intended to be upscale but don’t forget there are also the Clay Pot, Da Massimos & Thai House. And there is more planned for those who want something less expensive.

27 Theresa September 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Personally I’m game for all of those ideas. Get some pubs, boutiques, maybe a couple vendors in the Peddler to open an antique place. Or a trendy consignment shop. Love it all. But one thing I think our downtown should strive to be is local! No chains!

28 GR September 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm

There is a boutique going in next to Hotel Florence with a projected opening date at the first of next year! Exciting news! The boutique will carry unique clothing and accessories at a great price point. There is also a new restaurant opening soon called 1031 American Grill. You can check them out on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/pages/1031-American-Grill/575357002531822. Right next to Dolce Vita, there is also a truly unique martini bar set to start construction soon! If you are interested in opening your own business downtown and need real estate information, please contact Pearce Land Company. There is space available. http://pearcelandcompany.com/index.html

29 Tina O September 5, 2013 at 12:30 pm

To be honest, quite a lot of these types of businesses people have mentioned are already in Florence, I just never see any one shopping there and they aren’t located Downtown. How about some incentives for current Florence businesses to pull up shop where they are and relocate to down town? Maybe a five year tax break that would cover the cost of moving for them. Something to help fill the empty shop spaces down town. It is a deterrent to park your car and get out to shop when you have to walk passed three empty places to get to the next store front. There are plenty of places smack dab in the middle of a residential area here in Florence that would be much better off in a central location with other small stores. It would just mean convincing them to move.

And I fully agree that the downtown area seems to be geared to a very snooty clientele instead of your average Florence resident. Whether its a tea room or a book store or a tattoo parlor, I think they should all have a fair chance to help rebuild the area.

30 Jonathan September 5, 2013 at 11:56 am

@Tim: “I like the football stadium idea but don’t think it’s really feasible at this point. Who is going to pay to build a new stadium? I don’t think the school district will do it. But, it would make for some fun Friday nights.”

I would like to see how much a good one would cost, and if we could get any grants or someone like Drs. Bruce and Lee Foundation to give some funding for that kind of project. I am glad to know you think it would result in some fun Friday nights too. To me it would be a win/win for everyone, and yes that isn’t going to be free but many things downtown weren’t free and had serviceable buildings already in place. The idea was by moving them downtown in bigger, more updated and more desirable to go to then people will follow.

Let’s take the museum for example, it didn’t HAVE to move, but it did because they wanted more space and a better location to appeal to the masses. Football could be a huge part of this community and it needs to be brought back INTO town. I am tired of seeing all those people go out of town to do things. I think the timing is right too, if you look at Memorial Stadium it is obvious it hasn’t been upgraded in quite some time.

31 Phillip September 5, 2013 at 11:39 am

I visited a awesome chain place called Ladles in Charleston a soup and sandwich place I’d love to have one in Florence … I miss Atlanta bread

32 Tim September 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

Great idea on the art show. I know that Florence is planning on hosting an annual art show downtown. I am hopeful that it will get off the ground this spring. Plus, look for some information on Oktoberfest coming soon.

I like the football stadium idea but don’t think it’s really feasible at this point. Who is going to pay to build a new stadium? I don’t think the school district will do it. But, it would make for some fun Friday nights.

I’m hopeful for a bakery to be downtown soon as well as some more food/drinking establishments. What do y’all think about someone like a Palmetto Moon or Rivals having a presence downtown?

33 Fran September 5, 2013 at 11:34 am

I would love to see something like Aiken’s downtown. Drive, park and walk around to window shop and/or buy. A pub and grill with outside seating would be great, and ice cream store for dessert or a kids treat. A nice gift/book store, nice boutique and maybe an antique shop. I would love a great bakery that besides cakes/cookies could do some wonderful bread and rolls!

34 Libby September 5, 2013 at 11:13 am

I have considered opening a small Italian market downtown. I drive far and wide to get the wonderful ingredients and foods my Sicilian mother kept stocked in her kitchen — garlicky dry salamis, marinated olives in every color of the rainbow, salty, crumbly pecorina, roasted ceci, homemade sausage and mozzarella. In fact, I drive all the way to Cornelius, N.C. for my Italian provisions. I would not, however, want a Trader Joe’s here — I enjoy going to Cola., Charleston or Charlotte to get my cheap wine. It’s a good excuse to take a little road trip.

35 Jonathan September 5, 2013 at 11:07 am

There are two schools of thought here. Now that infrastructure has been built for businesses to actually move into, you have the option of luring or building businesses downtown to bring people in. This would help, of course, but the other action is what I mentioned yesterday:

Take events that you KNOW are well attended and bring them Downtown.

Case in point, football games. Could you imagine downtown on a Friday night if Wilson vs. South Florence was going on? Or West vs.South? And those are just rivalry games that will take place this year by the airport, not counting games that will happen every single week during the fall. All the restaurants would be packed, shops could be open too. And when that happens on such a big scale, businesses will want to be a part of that action. It’s a chicken and egg scenario, we need more well attended events brought downtown and the rest will follow.

36 Diane September 5, 2013 at 12:16 am

I’d love to see my favorite store, “TRADER JOES”. It is a shame to drive so far away for a taste of Heaven. I would also like having a high end Restraunt , like “The Library” like the one in Myrtle Beach.

37 Diane September 5, 2013 at 12:14 am

I’d love to see my favorite store, “TRADER JOES”. It is a shame to drive so far away for a taste of Heaven. I would also like having a high end Restraunt , like “The Library” like the one in Myrtle Beach.

38 Tiffany September 4, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Asheville and Greenville each have a thriving downtown. I like Jess idea of having a pottery painting place (which I would love to run!), while having a professional gallery spot too. Also, a cool pub area would be great. Throw in a couple of boutique shops that are specifically for the downtown area and you would have tourists flocking to Florence. Also, there’s so many college kids and young adults that live here that don’t make a bunch of money, but they DO spend money and are loyal. Instead of focusing on the top 2% of Florence high society, why not focus on the people who make up most of Florences income level? Office buildings and law offices don’t bring culture. Why not focus on being an locally owned and artsy community? Research found that Artfields in Lake City generated over 5 MILLION dollars worth of sales for businesses, not to mention art is universal in every culture. Art also stimulates and unifies communities. My wish is that Florence would become an united community. If we all worked together and value each of our opinions regardless of income level, race or gender, we would accomplish so much in our town. There’s SO many talented people here, but, sadly, many are moving to towns that offer more. We desperately need to cherish, congratulate and promote the talented people here. That’s the only way Florence can become a town worth traveling and moving to.

39 Megan September 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Downtown should have boutique clothing stores, like Lulu’s in Hartsville or Flirt. A Francesca’s (more of a chain) would also be a nice addition. Downtown needs a good pub-type bar (like O’Malley’s in Charleston). Other specialty shops like a gourmet food/gift shop would be nice.

40 Tim September 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I know that at least 2 parking ramps/decks are planned downtown.

41 katri September 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm

a brew pub-maybe Southern Hops could move DT-and you gotta have a Mexican restaurant! then you could add a mast general ;) and go from there!!!

42 Frankie September 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I would like a great retail gift store.

43 Amy R September 4, 2013 at 4:27 pm

All of the above ideas are great! I would love to see a bakery!

44 Chrissy September 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I like the previous poster’s ideas very much. How about a fantastic playground as well?

45 Jonathan September 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Move the football stadium from the airport to Downtown. Hundreds of people down there every weekend, and you could use it for other events if you treat it similarly to an amphitheater. Parking and other logistics would need to be worked out, but a few well placed parking garages would take care of it, I think.

46 Jess September 4, 2013 at 12:52 pm

My dream for downtown is that it would become a place you could drive to, park your car, and spend an afternoon. Grab a bite to eat, visit multiple shops, push the kids around in the stroller…I would love to have an area where you could spend your day in one area and not have to load up the car and drive to the next place. So my suggestions would be some boutiques, an ice cream shop, or even one of those pottery painting place or wine and painting shops.

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