MOUNDSVILLE - Mayor Eugene Saunders said the secret to downtown Moundsville's success is that residents patronize their home city's businesses.
As many cities' downtowns struggle, Moundsville continues to do well, attracting shoppers from throughout Marshall, Ohio and Wetzel counties.
"Moundsville takes care of Moundsville," Saunders said. "Tourists also come to Moundsville all the time and visit businesses. They go to the penitentiary for tours and they go a lot to Grand Vue Park."
New businesses also are often opening downtown, which offers people a variety of new places to spend their money. He noted the city's geography makes it more convenient for residents to shop there rather than drive long distances to other shopping centers.
Dave Knuth, Marshall County Chamber of Commerce director, attributed the historic business district's success to the Walmart that opened about a mile away from the downtown.
"Here in the last five years we have increased the potential for shopping in Moundsville because of the Walmart multi-department store coming into the area," Knuth said. "What it's done is brought a lot of people in from Moundsville proper to shop here and essentially a lot of spill-over into the historic business district."
Knuth said 18 businesses make up the district, which is located on Jefferson Avenue and a portion of Seventh Street. Types of businesses in the district include a frame shop, gift shops, florist, crafts, shoes, apparel, fabrics, quilts, surplus store, appliances, musical instruments, insurance agency, sign company, exercise facility, bakery, dentist, chiropractor, bank, eateries and more.
"Several existing stores have updated their interiors and made it a more pleasant place to shop in. This has caused an increase in shopping in businesses on Jefferson Avenue," Knuth said.
Phil Remke, president of the Uptown Moundsville Activities Committee, said his group has teamed up with all of the business-related agencies in the city to improve the district.
"We're a team - there's no 'I' in Moundsville. ... We now have 30 members who pay dues to have music on the avenue and flowers. A clean town is a healthy town, and positive thinking yields positive results," Remke said.
"Something is always going on here in Moundsville. ... People are buying properties - they see things happening and where the money is going," Remke added.
For example, the committee hired a person to clear the district's sidewalks of snow.
"That's why we're doing it - to make a difference," Remke said.
He said the committee considers Moundsville's downtown to include the plaza area where Kroger is located off of W.Va. 2.
In the uptown historic district, Remke has organized a variety of activities to attract more people including a farmers market, fall festival, street sales and more. He would like to try a wild game cookoff during the fall festival.
Remke said murals also are in the district's future along with a tribute memorial park for first responders.
Uniquely Yours owner Terri King believes the variety of shops on Jefferson Avenue has contributed to the district's success. She said she would like to see the remaining vacant storefronts filled.
"People like the little shops anymore. Little shops give a lot of individual attention and they can special order items for you," King said.
To keep her own business successful, Sheila Powell, owner of Dragonfly Crafts & Gifts, tries to keep her prices reasonable and listen to what her customers want.
Michelle Montesano, owner of Bella Villa Antiques, said Jefferson Avenue has a nice mix of shops but she would like to see other shops open.
"The more the merrier - competition is good," Montesano said.