By Robbie Johnson Weinberg, Owner and Director of Operations
When I think about how much eyelovememphis, I think about the many dedicated local business owners investing in their own spaces to live, work and play.
I think about Jennifer and Steven Karnes at Central Animal Hospital. Not only are they providers of excellent veterinary care, as Jennifer is a fantastic doctor to our 4 legged creatures, but they purchased their building and surrounding property to expand, build and renovate. Jennifer and Steven chose to invest hard-earned money, time and resources to keep their business in Midtown Memphis and grow it. They provide a wonderful place to work for many fantastic employees, along with a beautiful environment to work in every day. The design, created by archimania, was recognized in the Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects‘ (AIA Tennessee) 2014 Design Awards in the New Construction category.
I also think about Propcellar Vintage Rentals. Propcellar has taken a blighted former stained glass factory on a fairly devastated block of Summer Avenue and transformed it into a creative business that rents unique props for weddings and other events.
If you want a cool mid-century sofa to take pictures on at your farmhouse wedding, Propcellar has it. What about an old set of doors as a backdrop for your ceremony or some mismatched antique china plates instead of the status quo rentable china? Propcellar is your place.
But, what is most unique to me is the risk these business owners have taken on Summer Avenue. They have beautified and begun to transform this little block of Memphis, and I love it.
Lastly, I think about my dentist, Dr. Zachary Johnston. He bought his building on Belvedere across from Seikusi a few years ago from an existing, retiring dentist. He recently gave his exterior a facelift that reflects the pride and enthusiasm local entrepreneurs are feeling about their properties.
I love how interesting each of these properties look now and how happy they make me when I drive, bike or walk by them. I love how they aren’t strip malls, but instead are reinventions or re-imagined uses of existing spaces.
When I look back at Eclectic Eye’s business plan from 2001, I’m reminded that we had to prove to the bank that Midtown Memphis could sustain an optometric practice and eyewear boutique. The banks were skeptical. We then met with a large local real estate company who told us that we should refocus our energies on East Memphis or beyond because our concept would not be sustainable in Midtown.
We left that company and found a like-minded developer who believed in Midtown like we did. We believed! Nothing makes me happier than seeing other small local entrepreneurs also believe. That’s a big reason EYELOVEMEMPHIS!