- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Downtown Hattiesburg is continuing its period of rejuvenation with the addition of several new endeavors during the last couple months, with more expected in the near future.

“I think that we’ve got some really positive momentum going on,” said Andrea Saffle, executive director of the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. “There’s a sense of excitement that things are really starting to happen, and I think we’ve got nothing but positive to look forward to.”

Downtown Hattiesburg business happenings include:

Weekender Downtown

Weekender Downtown, a women’s boutique, held its grand opening April 2 at 207 E. Front St., in the America Building. The store offers 1,700 square feet of retail space with sizes small-2XL, accessories, jewelry and a kids line with sizes 7-13. The new location also will feature an “artist collection” of items co-designed and curated with local graphic designers and artists.

“We’ve had an incredible reception, between Art Walk, HUBFEST, downtown neighbors and the neighborhood association,” owner Adam Myrick said. “It’s been really overwhelming, to say the least.”

Myrick’s other location, Weekender Studio in midtown, will continue to carry denim, seasonal separates and dresses in sizes small-large, accessories and jewelry.

For Myrick, the new location represents a move back downtown, as he was the co-owner of the former Click Boutique & Gallery on Front Street.

“We’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of years carving out a community all over town, but especially downtown,” Myrick said. “It has been a very emotional, positive roller-coaster of seeing the fruits of our labor and people being so positive. We’ve had great feedback - people welcoming us back, telling us this is our home, and this is where we belong.”

The Porter Public House

The Porter Public House is expected to open soon at 201 W. Pine St., across from the U.S. Post Office. The pub will offer American-style food such as cheeseburgers, chili-cheese dogs and meatloaf.

“So it’s classic American food, like when you think of American diner food, but take it and kind of put it through a pub filter, if you will,” owner Roy Windham said.

The venue also will offer live entertainment - including music, comedy and the arts - along with beer, wine and spirits.

“We’re trying to do a little bit of everything, as far as having a local scene, local life, with a traditional pub feel and that community aspect,” Windham said. “We can’t wait - we’re actually really excited and ready to do our part to help.

“There’s several people down here already doing great things, and doing their part to revitalize downtown and Hattiesburg. And that’s what we want to do, is jump in on that, and give people a space to come together and have a community.”

GrateFull Soul General Store

Grant Ford and Carmen Hardy Ford, the owners of GrateFull Soul on Main Street, are opening GrateFull Soul General Store at 201 Main St., in the former Yokel building.

The general store, which is expected to open in early May, will offer a variety of items including soft drinks, candy, beer, milk and general grocery items.

“The people that live downtown and in the downtown area, if they need something like that, they have to drive halfway up to Hardy Street to Sunflower or Dollar General, or go to Petal,” Grant Ford said. “So hopefully, we’ll fill a need that’s been here for a while.”

Peachy

Peachy, a plus-size women’s boutique, is opening at 138 E. Front St., in the former Click Boutique & Gallery location. The shop, which has debuted in downtown on a couple occasions with pop-up stores, will offer women’s plus-size clothing and accessories including handbags and jewelry.

The shop will initially be open Thursday-Saturday, with plans to open full time in the summer.

“It’s been a long time coming for me - this is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” owner Nicole Jefcoat said. “So the fact that I can finally make it happen, I feel like pieces are coming together for me, and it’s just a really good feeling. Ladies are very excited to have a boutique that’s exclusive for plus-size women, so they can feel like they have a place to go shopping as well, so it’s been great feedback.”

The Bottling Company

The Bottling Company at 216 Mobile St. is being repurposed as a private event venue and will host its first event May 13. The building - which originally was used as an actual Coca-Cola bottling plant from 1915-60 - will be used to host events such as business meetings, anniversaries, weddings and reunions.

The venue also will feature occasional live music, changing rooms and a catering kitchen to cater certain events.

“We finally closed on the building and purchased it a few weeks back, and we’re doing some minor renovations,” said owner Ron Savell, who also owns Mugshots, Patio 44 and Brewsky’s. “I’ve always been in love with that building - we just could never find the right niche for that big of a building in downtown.

“So with private events, we think it’s going to do great, and I think it’ll complement some things that are already downtown.”

An open house is expected sometime in June.

Twin Forks Wine and Provisions

A couple years after opening Twin Forks Wine and Provisions at 408 Hemphill St., owners Brian and Sarah Halliwell Carver have added the “provisions” part to their shop.

The addition, which opened in December, specializes in cheese and other gourmet items, with plans of adding more options in the future.

“Right now, we’re kind of a gourmet shop - we’re still working on our kitchen,” Sarah Halliwell Carver said. “It was always in our plans to begin with, but we’ve just been kind of taking it step by step.”

Hattiesburg Ballroom & Beyond

Hattiesburg Ballroom & Beyond, formerly located on South 28th Avenue, has relocated to 208 W. Pine St., in the bottom of the Geiger building.

The ballroom hosts classes every night of the week, including social dances the first Friday of every month, zumba classes and adult ballet classes. In addition to the regular classes, owner Rebecca Chandler also has hosted swing dance classes at the Tap Room at Southern Prohibition Brewing.

“And I’ve taught some stuff over at Art Walk at some point,” Chandler said. “Just anything we can do with downtown events, we’re trying to get into.

“And we have a personal trainer coming in, and she’s going to do a free boot camp class on the 30th. So if people are interested in it, and they want to continue to take that class, she going to come every other Saturday. So it’s been going great.”

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com

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