TWIN FALLS – You don’t have to look at the newly paved streets to see that this isn’t the Main Avenue of yesteryear.
Some of the once-familiar businesses are gone, including a large bank, a canvas painting studio and a home décor and gift shop. But downtown has also welcomed the arrival of a farm-to-table café, an ice cream shop and a couple of new hair salons.
But Tony Prater, whose jewelry shop has been downtown for six decades, says the turnover is nothing new.
“Downtowns have a tendency to be a little more like that than malls,” he said. “That’s a natural part of downtowns.”
In Prater’s view, more businesses have moved into Twin Falls in recent years than have moved out, even outside of the reconstructed portion of Main Avenue. While some businesses were negatively impacted by this summer’s construction, Prater believes the worst sales declines are over.
“All the traffic seems to be getting more and more,” he said.
Here’s a recap of the changes downtown Twin has seen since just before – and since – the reconstruction began in February.
Back in January, Scrappin Girlfriends – a scrapbooking and craft store – announced it would be closing at 123 Main Ave. E. The closure wasn’t due to the upcoming construction, but because of a business partnership that was no longer working out. It didn’t take long before Beautified, a hair and nail salon, took its place. The new shop opened in March.
Similarly, Canvas Creations at 235 Main Ave. W. closed at the end of January. The following month, in early February, Main Avenue Vape Supply moved into its spot.
Moose Hill Home Décor and Gift owners Vera and Tom Newnham also decided they would no longer operate at the storefront next to Twin Beans Coffee. That spot is being used as temporary offices for Extreme Staffing.
Still, another business changed its marketing early on this year. The Gyro Shop in February began extending its hours to accommodate late diners Wednesday through Friday. Owners Vonia and Shane Jackson also opened an ice cream shop in the same building: The Lucky Scoop opened in October to offer Cloverleaf Creamery ice cream in Twin Falls year-round.
Many more changes happened as construction was in full swing. In August, Bath N Body Boutique was forced to leave its downtown building after the lease expired. The next month, that space was taken by Hueology, a retailer for Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.
Wells Fargo, meanwhile, closed its Main Avenue South branch in September, saying customers were switching to more digital banking. It was a big blow to a major intersection of downtown – Main Avenue and Shoshone streets – where two former bank buildings have become all or partially vacant. The old Key Bank building went unoccupied after construction was finished on the new city hall building in October.
Later last summer, Main Avenue’s Toy Orphanage and Things was forced to close after its building was sold to Extreme Staffing for new offices.
In early October, after months of construction inside and out, the Yellow Brick Café finally opened its doors in time to welcome visitors for Twin Falls’ annual Oktoberfest.
Also in September and October, several businesses began improving their storefronts. The Orpheum, Magic Valley Bible Church and Rudy’s – A Cook’s Paradise painted their building exteriors. The Twin Falls Sewing Center, Jensen Jewelers and O’Dunken’s Draught House put up new signage.
“With a downtown restoration, we’re trying to beautify and make sure we have a nice facade on our building as well,” said Orpheum manager Jared Johnson. “Those large trees — as beautiful as they were — they’re not hiding those facades anymore. With those gone, we can see every detail of the architectural vision of what the designers of these buildings and the designers of the downtown wanted.”
Shane Cook, owner of Twin Falls Sandwich Co., also started work remodeling the historic Koto building for his future brewery, which is now slated to open sometime in early 2018.
“The smaller vacancies are becoming very, very few,” Prater said. “That’s where new businesses will thrive. I think it is great in momentum. We have more new businesses than less.”