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Downtown renaissance
Area continues to grow, prosper
Angell Eckert gives Abby a haircut at her boutique in downtown McMinnville. The business has been open since February, and is open Tuesday through Saturday.

In downtown McMinnville you can get your hair cut, enjoy a meal or snack, make banking transactions, purchase office supplies, get insurance or investment advice, shop at various antique and specialty shops, attend church, buy or sell a home, visit a pediatrician or even take a yoga or Jiu Jitsu class.
The endless list of downtown businesses is growing, with merchants feeling optimistic about the  future.
Businesses, as well as the Courthouse, Post Office, Chamber of Commerce, Magness Library, two museums and City Hall are all in downtown McMinnville, surrounding the beautiful, fully renovated park area. The city’s urban forestry department maintains the area, caring for the plants and making sure something is in bloom almost year round.
Many community activities take place downtown throughout the year, with one of the most popular and well attended being the Main Street Live summer concert series. Plans are currently being made for the upcoming season.
According to Downtown Business Alliance chair Christy Ross excitement is in the air, and she speaks highly of the current city administration.
“Our town is making great strides,” said Ross. “I feel this current board and mayor are helping it come along in a positive manner.” Ross is the owner and operator of Ross and Company, a barber and beauty salon for both men and women.
Most shop owners feel the restoration of the Park Theater is a big plus for all, as it presents live stage productions on a regular basis, and shows occasional movies.
Vintage Market owner Shanna Blackburn has just been open for business since Nov. 1, but is happy with her walk-in customers. Her store is stocked full of antiques, vintage and rustic items.
“We are doing very well, and have seen lots of out-of-town visitors,” said Blackburn. “Bluegrass Underground has been great for us, as well as the Park Theater. They both bring people downtown for eating and entertainment, and that means shopping.”
Bluegrass Under-ground is the popular concert series held 330 feet below ground in the Volcano Room of Cumberland Caverns.  
Speaking of music, melodic sounds can be heard coming from Collins River Barbeque and Topz Frozen Yogurt and Deli on most weekends.
Joe O’Neal opened Collins River almost four years ago, with a hope and a prayer his hard work would pay off.
“Since we started, I would estimate our traffic has increased over 50 percent,” said O’Neal. “It seems like the businesses are working together to make downtown work.” 
Sisters Jeanie McCormick and Janie Jones are taking a new interest in downtown, with both of them residing nearby. McCormick lives in the Spangler Towers and Jones has recently moved to D’Ville Apartments.
“It’s beautiful down here,” said Jones. “Sometimes we just get out and walk and enjoy the weather, and today we are going to Topz for frozen yogurt.”
Also in the downtown area is the beautiful Farmers Market pavilion, which showcases Tennessee-grown products several months of the year. Their official spring opening is planned for April 2.
Possibly a first in downtown is a shop specifically for pets. Furry Tales Grooming, Boutique and Bakery is on Spring Street, and has a delicious offering of treats, as well as accessories for the pampered pet.
Professional groomer Angell Eckert enjoys working with animals, and says she may be the only person in town that grooms cats.
McMinnville native Connie George is very excited and optimistic about downtown McMinnville.
“It is so beautiful down here. I love the sidewalks, I love the atmosphere and I enjoy shopping down here once again,” said George. “I really like what has been done to our beautiful town and hope it continues to thrive.”