Lexington sees good business news

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) They’ve become a familiar sight in too many towns in our area: Empty storefronts.

But in Lexington things are different.

“About 18 months ago, we had 14 or 15 of them,” says Stephanie Wilkinson, Executive. Director of Main Street Lexington. "Right now, we have about 2 or 4, depending on how you count.”

Depending on whether they’re being renovated, or just not put on the market.

One of the recently filled storefronts is the Earth, Fire, & Spirit gallery.

“We’re eating at the restaurant next door, walked by the space, and said: You know, that would be a really nice gallery space,” remembers Amber Poole, artist and gallery owner.

They moved in June 1, offering not just Poole’s pottery, but the work of several local artists.

“There’s a lot of support for that kind of pop-up, new business here in Lexington,” Poole says.

“It takes everybody," Wilkinson says. "It takes the city investing in the infrastructure, it takes private people putting money into buildings, and it certainly takes lots and lots of volunteers to make everything in downtown feel and look good.”

Having two universities in town helps, but shop owners like Amber think the improvements make all the difference.

“They see everything alive and thriving, and they come out and they spend money,” she explains.

“I think that we are riding a wave of confidence in Lexington that I don’t remember," says Wilkinson. "I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I’ve never seen this many people pull together on the same oars to try to get things better.”