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Hurricane boasts new businesses on Main Street

HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Teresa Ash and her husband, John, stand behind the counter of the shop at the corner of the 2700 block on Main Street in Hurricane as Teresa scoops a handful of brightly colored popcorn into a bag.

"We just created this flavor -- it's orange Dreamsicle," Teresa said. "It complements one of our cupcakes."

Teresa and John have owned Sweet Street Popcorn for nearly two months. The shop is one of three new stores to open on Hurricane's downtown Main Street, and with a fourth set to open this week, Mayor Scott Edwards said he's optimistic about the business opportunities for Putnam County's largest city.

"It's about buying local items from local people," Edwards said. "It's a good exchange, and it encourages fellowship. You go into one of these shops, and you don't just buy one item and leave -- you talk and interact with people. It's different than going to a big box store or going to Amazon and having it delivered to your house.

"The past three or four months, I've been more excited about Main Street than ever because, suddenly, four new businesses are here," he said.

Teresa, a former pharmacist, had been baking cakes as a hobby for 28 years when she decided it was time for a career change.

"I gave that up for this. I'd rather bake cupcakes," she said. "No one is unhappy about cupcakes; everyone is happy about cupcakes. In pharmacy, that isn't always the case."

John, who wanted Teresa to have Sweet Street as a venue for her cupcakes, said he got wrapped up in the business after the couple decided to keep up its identity as a popcorn shop.

"Everyone who loved the popcorn before was very sad and disappointed to see it go. We got a lot of the popcorn regulars back, and they've seen how we've improved on it, so they're super excited about that," Teresa said. "Other people who never knew what the place was are coming in for the first time, and they're not only finding out what it is -- that we've got popcorn and cupcakes -- but that we've got this complete deli menu."

Sweet Street serves everything from hot dogs to soups and sandwiches, as well as fresh and packaged popcorn and made-from-scratch cupcakes in flavors Teresa changes every day, sometimes more than once.

"I've sold at least 20 or 30 varieties of cupcake so far," she said. "You'll never see the same cupcakes displayed the same way twice."

Teresa develops her own cupcake recipes; dark chocolate raspberry, caramel apple, tropical coconut and s'mores are a few of the flavors the shop has offered so far. The shop, at 2759 Main St., is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Ashes, who live in Eleanor, said they couldn't pass up the chance to own a business in downtown Hurricane.

"Certainly, our hearts are with Hurricane no matter what, because we want to see downtown thrive," Teresa said. "We're excited about all the new businesses that are around here."

A block away, Lesa Bostic adjusts the fall display inside Oodles, a new boutique in a 200-year-old house that has an array of home décor, jewelry and gifts that Bostic believes fills a need in the Hurricane community.

"We've been so busy I can't even get my displays done," Bostic joked.

"I want Oodles to be a little bit of everything. It's primarily home and gifts, but we have oodles of ideas we want to share, and hopefully people will want to take those away with them," she said. "I think it fills a need in the community, because we don't have a retail location down here that sells gifts."

Cooper, Bostic's tan poodle, greets customers at the door. Three large rooms on the main floor of the building offer a selection of Vera Bradley purses, bags and other merchandise, such as jewelry, tea sets and Halloween decorations.

Name-brand baby clothing and supplies have been a big hit with her customers.

"The response has been overwhelming. Our doors closed at 6 p.m. [one recent evening], and I didn't leave until 9:30 because we still had people in here talking," she said. "It's more of a visit place than a retail establishment even."

Bostic, a former home consultant through Southern Living magazine, said she hopes to open up the second floor of the house in the near future, and has plans to begin offering custom gift baskets for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.

"We've really opened up to the forgotten market that is Putnam County," said Oodles employee Shawna Linville. "The county is growing so quickly, and there was nothing like this here. A husband can walk in here and find something his wife is going to love.

"People who say, 'Oh, there's that school surprise party I have to go to' or 'I forgot to get a teacher gift' -- this place has it."

Hattie's, a country-style restaurant and rustic gift shop, has seen plenty of business of its own, according to owner and chef Tina Maria McCallister.

The restaurant, named for McCallister's grandmother with a menu modeled after her home cooking, has used more than 700 pounds of potatoes since it opened its doors more than a month ago.

"Our Philly cheesesteak has become a huge seller, and so have our homemade french fries," she said. "We do daily specials too, and not small quantities. When you get a plate of food here, you get a plate of food."

The restaurant, at 2739 Main St., was formerly Root Cellar Herbs & Ferguson Tea Room. McCallister said she was hesitant at first about converting the tea room into a full-fledged restaurant. Although the first few days were difficult, she feels confident about Hattie's.

"When I walked in the door, it was a tea room," she said. "I saw all the shelving and everything, and thought of all the things we could do with it. We went from dainty to very old-time country."

Snow Biz, the fourth business to open on Main Street in the last three months, started selling snow cones in downtown Hurricane Friday.

Brenda Campbell, development and tourism manager for the city, said she hopes the businesses on Main Street, both new and old, will be able to do well and help downtown Hurricane remain a must-visit for residents and visitors alike.

"Everything's just coming together," Campbell said. "I'm excited about all of the shops ... that are coming together here. It's going to allow the entire street to thrive."

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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