Amy Stone is the city of Columbia's retail recruiter. She played a key role in last week's announcement that Mast General Store is coming to the Lourie's building on Main Street.
On Monday, she spoke to The State newspaper about downtown's retail future.
What does Mast General Store opening on Main Street mean to retail recruitment downtown?
Mast will serve as a catalyst for downtown retail. They have a great business plan and have been quite successful in other markets. Success breeds success, and other stores will want to locate near them for that reason. Mast will be an attraction and a destination. Other stores will reap the benefits of increased numbers of shoppers in the area.
What about Columbia attracted the store here?
Columbia is a strong market. Business Week recently listed Columbia as the 14th-strongest metropolitan economy in the country. We have strong demographics. The retail trade area has close to 400,000 people. The visitor market is strong with over 2 million business and leisure visitors annually. The university population, as well as Fort Jackson, played a key role.
What does the relocation of the Nickelodeon art house cinema and the opening of the Main & Gervais office tower mean to Main Street and downtown.
There has certainly been an upswing in both office interest and the arts. Both will bring more people downtown during the day and into the evening hours.
What's on your wish list?
We need a broader merchandise mix. I wish for more good restaurants. My vision is for downtown to be the in-place to go for shopping, lunch, dinner, an evening at the museum, watching a film, or listening to great music.