Five years after launching in Buffalo, home goods store Market 116 LLC and its owners have invested roughly $300,000 in a longtime vacant downtown building.
The move to 104 N. Cedar St. was partly made to revitalize the former home of Woods Supermarket, which required extensive renovations after sitting empty for four decades, said Market 116 co-owner Nicole Bryan. She and her husband, Chad, bought the 14,000-square-foot building earlier this year from Woods Supermarket.
It was a short move for the Bryans, as Market 116 first opened at 116 S. Cedar St. The couple bought that 1908-built downtown building in 2016 and the home store occupied the front 3,000 square feet, Nicole Bryan said. The back area, roughly 4,000 square feet, was dedicated to a wedding venue the Bryans also operate. She said the best way to expand both business ventures was to have them fill separate buildings.
Leaving downtown was not an option, Bryan said.
“That was my stipulation. If I was going to buy a new building, it needed to be on the downtown square,” she said. “I’m a lover of old buildings. When I bought that building downtown and renovated it, I didn’t know how passionate we were going to get about our town and really trying to make sure the square thrived again.”
That passion for Buffalo is music to Hollie Elliott’s ears. She’s the executive director of the Dallas County Economic Development Group.
“They have definitely invested in the community and gone all in,” Elliott said. “They can be a good inspiration for others who have an interest or passion for older buildings in their communities on the square.”
Elliott said the Dallas County organization, a 501(c)(3) centered on economic and community development, works to retain and recruit businesses. While she said Market 116 is an obvious retention win for Buffalo, it’s not the only victory the organization played a part in this year.
The Durham Co., a Lebanon-based manufacturer of electric products, announced in May its plans to invest roughly $5 million for a plant in Buffalo.
The company intends to build a 45,000-square-foot electrical utility distribution equipment manufacturing facility. The company also will create 50 jobs in the community northeast of Springfield, according to past Springfield Business Journal reporting.
Officials said the project would be completed in multiple phases over the next several years, with potential future expansion.
“That doesn’t come around all the time, and certainly in smaller communities, we have to be very prepared and work really hard to compete,” Elliott said, noting the Missouri Department of Economic Development was key in The Durham Co. deal.
The Durham Co. is receiving state incentives via Missouri Works, which gives companies withholdings or tax credits for job creation.
Building relationships with DED is a key component for economic development in rural communities, she said.
“We don’t have as many resources as larger communities do. Our community has worked really hard at building relationships between the city, county and school,” she said. “Those are the people that can make things work or make things really challenging.”
Dallas County’s population is 16,878, according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data.
While downtown Buffalo currently has five vacant buildings, Elliott and Bryan both say the area is on a road to improvement.
“There’s a lot of interest in revitalization of the downtown businesses,” Elliott said, pointing to the May opening of The Dallas County Jail Hotel at 111 W. Main St., just off the town square.
According to past reporting, the short-term rental’s launch by owner Patty Miller followed roughly 14 months of sporadic renovations on the 1930-built, 1,200-square-foot former jail.
The rental property listed on Airbnb.com is a seven-bed, two-bathroom space that includes repurposing of a former prisoner booking area, solitary confinement space and inmate cells.
While Bryan said Market 116’s North Cedar Street building was in much better shape than the store’s original home a few doors down, it needed replacement of many big components: electric, plumbing, HVAC and ductwork.
The tight deadline to finish the work by June 5 was self-imposed.
“We set a deadline for ourselves that we were going to open on our fifth-year anniversary for the store,” she said. “When we finally got the keys and closed on the building, we had 61 days left.”
The Bryans are no stranger to renovation projects, as they’ve done residential work on rental properties they own in Branson, Lebanon and Mount Vernon.
“This is our biggest free-standing project,” she said. “We had some really great local contractors that actually dropped everything and, for some reason, agreed to my crazy deadline and worked with us.”
Companies that worked on the project included Bandel Carpentry LLC, Sutton Construction, M&M Heating and Air, and Wells and Sons Painting LLC, she said, noting over 300 gallons of paint were used for the renovation.
“We did really good,” she said. “I was shocked that it all came together, and we were able to move in.”
More than quadrupling the shop’s square footage was an intimidating proposition, she said. The store’s inventory includes wall decor, tabletops, window coverings and furniture the employees refinish. Six boutiques from the Buffalo and Bolivar area also each rent roughly 10-by-10-foot spaces for an undisclosed rate to sell clothing at the shop, which employs five.
“Like any small-business owner, it’s super scary to expand – especially when you’re comfortable,” she said. “I would like to say there is room to grow into it, but we have pretty much filled the entire thing.”
Bryan said she hopes Market 116 will eventually become a longtime business presence on the square, along with Chapman’s Furniture Inc., Davison’s TV & Electronics, and Katrina’s Flowers LLC.
Elliott said the county’s economic development group is involved in early conversations with the city, Southwest Missouri Council of Governments and Springfield Regional Economic Partnership to create a downtown revitalization plan for Buffalo. She said identifying potential incentives will be part of future discussions. No timetable is in place for when a plan will be developed.
“Funding follows planning many times, so seeing what needs are and then matching what funding opportunities might be there for that is always helpful,” she said.
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