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Bluechip: Vital To Revitalization

The atmosphere wasn't always so great in downtown Springfield, though, Hauder recalls.

"When I moved in, I told everyone that this was my corner now. Get out. Pick up your needles and go. It's totally changed now.

That whole scene you don't see anymore. It's not their scene anymore. They don't feel comfortable with all the people eating at the restaurants and such. They've gone elsewhere."

Mary Jo Moloney owns the six-year-old sewing lounge Our Sewing Room, a studio where quilters and other sewing artists work on projects. On site are a long-arm quilting machine, sewing machines, cutting tables, etc. Although drop-ins are welcome, Moloney switched to being a membership-based business about two years ago.

"It makes it easier for everybody," Moloney says of the fee. "It's less expensive for the people who come on a regular basis. And members take care of the shop, too."

Moloney first opened an antiques business with her husband in downtown Springfield 35 years ago. She recalls that back then, the downtown had a "terrible reputation and was full of bars."

Several of the newer businesses are restaurant/bars, but it does feel different, Moloney allows, than it did years ago. Variety in the kinds of businesses, she says, will be what's best for downtown Springfield in the long run.

"I think the people who are owners feel like they have ownership in what's happening. It's really more like a community. We're very happy to see Springfield revitalizing," Mohoney says.

Cornbread Cafe Sheree Walters, owner of Cornbread Cafe, is aiming to be part of the Sunday brunch lineup as soon as possible, one of many goals she has for her second all-vegan comfort food restaurant, just two doors east of Main Street Market.

Presently the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday and has yet to hold its official ribbon-cutting ceremony. That's because opening her second restaurant has taken Walters almost two years -- while she's juggled running her original site in Eugene.

"I was looking for a commissary kitchen, really," Walters recalls. "We do a lot of business-to-business and some catering, and our Eugene kitchen is just too small and inefficient for all that. So that's what I was looking for. A larger kitchen."

David Loveall showed her a space which she thought was too big for her kitchen plan.

"I wasn't ready to open a second location," Walters says. "It's extremely expensive and time-consuming when something isn't already a kitchen. There are all these system development fees and permits and everything."

But she did love the space.

"We have always been Southern-inspired," Walters says, "but when I first walked into that space, it just reminded me of New Orleans."

That got her mind going. A second restaurant could focus on Cajun and Creole-inspired cuisine. How about a Mushroom Po-Boy? Jambalaya? Walters loved the downtown Springfield vibe, and Loveall was willing to invest.

"I wanted to be a part of it," Walters admits. "Just being a part of this downtown revitalization, it's a wonderful opportunity," she says, adding, "There's a lot more to come. I've only just begun."

The Refinery Skin Care and Spa Monica Guza, who opened The Refinery Skin Care and Spa in part of the Tronson Gallery of Contemporary Art building in February, is anticipating that the revitalization will head in her direction east along Main Street.

"I feel like I'm on the outer edge of it," Guza says, "but I feel like it's growing toward me. I know that clients will often leave here and go to the Main Street Market, or they'll have lunch and go do some shopping. Or they'll go to the PublicHouse, which is three blocks from me. So I know that I'm close enough and I can see it."

Guza used to operate her business in Eugene, and then when she and her husband bought a house in the Hayden Bridge area of Springfield six years ago, she began to consider moving her business to Springfield.

"I saw downtown really begin to blossom, especially on Main Street. It seemed like a really beautiful, cohesive area." Although she continued to look for space in Eugene, where most of her clients live, nothing felt right.

"Nothing was working," Guza admits. "And finally I thought: I want to go to Springfield! I liked the idea of being closer to home. There didn't seem to be a spa down here, so I started looking."

Drawn to the Tronson Gallery building, she put her card in the mail slot. Timing was perfect for building owners Jim and Terry Tronson, who had been thinking of renting out half of the building. They built out Guza's space, and she couldn't be happier. "I love this building. It has that modern 1950s vibe, which is the whole look and feel I was going for. It's perfect."

Moon Child Vintage Finding the perfect location is the key for any business, and Springfield's current vibe is hard to dispel.

Jenna Moco, owner of Moon Child Vintage, moved her shop from a site on Centennial Boulevard near Chase Village to across the street from Main Street Market just in time to open her doors for a downtown block party back in July.

"I definitely wanted more foot traffic than I had at the other site," admits Moco, who studied fashion design at Drexel University and worked at the Urban Outfitters headquarters in Philadelphia for several years before heading west with her husband and dogs, and taking that leap to open her own business. "And I can already see a difference."

A Springfield resident, Moco specializes in vintage clothing, "nothing younger than 20 years old." She curates jeans, dresses, blouses, boots, hats, jewelry, purses and vintage/retro T-shirts.

Moco likes that her shop's location is just over the river from the University of Oregon, an easy EmX ride for vintage-savvy students to downtown Springfield.

"I'd been eyeing this site for a while," Moco admits. "I really wanted to be a part of Springfield's revitalization. I just love being in the center of town."

The time is now in Springfield, these women business owners agree.

Who else will join them to ride this welcome wave of positive energy?

"If you're the right kind of individual, with a dream and a plan, and you're a good businessperson who has everything it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, you've got a chance -- you've got more than a fighting chance -- and a real opportunity to invest," says Mikkelsen from the Springfield Chamber. "It's a full-on momentum shift." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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