Small town America is beginning to attract residents back as they flee from the fast pace, heavy traffic and high crime of the big city. Telecommuting has also contributed to the trend as the Internet has removed the requirement that workers be physically close to the the bigger cities. The charm of small town living, where “everyone knows your name” and you rarely go into a restaurant or grocery store without seeing a neighbor, friend or fellow member of the congregation of your church, is pulling older folks back to their hometowns to retire and making young folks rethink the notion that they have to head to the big city to get a job worth having.
Indeed, after living in the Atlanta suburbs for 25 years, I happily returned to my hometown to retire and I have not regretted the decision one little bit. This is home. I love the pace, I love the feeling of family that permeates the air, and I love seeing my little town prosper.
To try and foster that prosperity and preserve what was good about small town living was what prompted me to run for the Lyons City Council and it has been very rewarding to be a public servant focused on helping my little town live up to its potential.
And that potential has just kicked into overdrive. Since the start of my term on January 1st of this year, downtown Lyons has enjoyed a spate of new businesses. The reasons they are coming here are as varied as the businesses themselves. Certainly, they want to capitalize on the growing attraction of small town living. And it makes good business sense too, as the wonderful restaurants we have in Lyons have brought in lots of foot traffic downtown. Indeed, with the popularity of fine eating places like Elements and Hardware Pizza, the cars parked in downtown Lyons around eating time is reminiscent of the 1950’s and 1960’s, when the city was in its heyday and teeming with activity!
My wife Debbie and I have been checking out those new businesses and are excited about the enthusiasm we are seeing in the new owners. They are excited about their new ventures and optimistic about their chances for success. Lets take a tour of the six new businesses we’ve seen hang out their shingle in Lyons and one that has expanded their business.
B Nails & Spa
If the number of cars out front is any indication, the decision of the owners of KZ Nails in Vidalia to open a similar salon in Lyons was a good one.
They are indeed lots of ladies (and gentlemen) desiring to get their nails done, be it manicures, pedicures or the application of acrylics, but B Nails & Spa is not just a convenient local business. The owners went out of their way to create an “experience”. I would be surprised if folks from Vidalia don’t drive down to Lyons just to enjoy this state of the art nail salon.
Indeed, that is what it takes to succeed in Lyons … do something unique and different or do something that offers Lyons residents greater convenience than driving somewhere else. Trying to compete against Walmart, Lowe’s, Belks or the big shopping areas in the trade centers, I would suggest, is futile. Having a really stylish and modern salon close by is a winning approach!
Find out more about B Nails & Spa by clicking here.
The French Flea
Brenda Driggers and Susan de Gonzaque decided that downtown Lyons would provide them a great opportunity of success and they left the Red Wagon Vintage Market and set up a new antique store in the old Thriftway Grocery building downtown.
My memories of this unique building go all the way back to when it was called the Jitney Jungle and was operated by Mr. Herman I. Jones. The first time I went in this building, my mother was still holding my hand to keep me out of mischief, so it is only appropriate that it should now be filled with antiques that take you back to a simpler time.
Already, fifteen antique vendors have leased space in the building, proving that, despite the fact that Lyons already has five antique stores, there is still room for more. What happens, when you have this many outlets in a small area, is that people from all around start identifying Lyons as the “place to go for antiques” and people come from miles around to shop here.
The vendors who are located at The French Flea shop all over the world for the items displayed in the store. While visiting the store, I purchased a globe of the world in a nice stand for my office. It looks great there.
My wife Debbie (right) enjoyed talking to Brenda Driggers and complimented her on the assortment of merchandise for sale.
This large painting was not acquired somewhere else and offered for sale here. It was actually painted by Susan de Gonzaque, partner in the store and resident of Lyons! One of the store walls was lined with her beautiful art, including a painting of a Georgia Bulldog that you need to go by and see.
Find out more about The French Flea by clicking here.
Hole in the Wall
Teresa Hightower also recognized the attraction of a 138-year old city to people who love antiques and opened “Hole in the Wall” earlier this year, featuring all manner of antiques.
Teresa and her husband purchased a beautiful home on US # 1 that was built by Bill Holloway, who was the President of the Peoples Bank for many years. The home is one of the oldest in the city and she has furnished it with antiques, so she believes in what she sells!
This store is located on SW Broad Street where back in my youth Ideal Pharmacy was located. I can remember accompanying my grandmother to see Dr. Youmans back in the rear of the store, where he maintained an office, if memory serves me correctly. When Mitch Shook purchased the building, it was in very poor condition. He completely gutted it, and showed Teresa the shell.
“It was a hole in the wall when I saw it, but I loved how the rustic nature of it would fit right in to my dream of making it an antique store,” she told him. He replaced the floor and ceiling, installed modern A/C and plumbing and left the walls rough just for her. She loves it!
The store specializes in antiques, but there is also a section called “Man Cave” that caters to some items men can peruse through while their wives are shopping the antiques. It includes a fine selection of knives, hot sauce and outdoor grilling items.
Find out more about the Hole in the Wall by clicking here.
Jency Jeffers also has fallen in love with this community and she and her dad couldn’t wait to move their restaurant, Lottie’s Pocket, from Johnson’s Corner to downtown Lyons in the building next to the old Pal Theater (now the Blue Marquee). They had their ribbon cutting just last week.
Lottie’s Pocket makes their own ice cream. If you have recently attended the downtown festivities during the Real Squeal, you probably noticed an old one-cylinder engine churning ice cream. That antique belongs to the Jeffers Family and is a classic! Having it churn ice cream is a testament to the innovative attitude Jency brings to food services.
Jency is very invested into Lyons and was appointed to the Lyons Zoning Board by the City Council at our meeting on June 5, 2018. She has some great ideas about bringing yet another restaurant to downtown Lyons to help expand our recognition as THE place to go when you are hungry!
While right now Lottie’s Pocket is small and intimate and serves up some of the best BBQ anywhere around, look for this enterprising young lady to bring her “can-do” attitude to an even bigger and better restaurant somewhere in Lyons in the future!
Find out more about Lottie’s Pocket by clicking here.
Noogums Graphics & Custom Apparel
We didn’t get a chance to go in and talk to the proprietor of Noogums Graphics & Custom Apparel, but as you can see from the graphics in the window, Stephanie & Greg Wilt really know their stuff. Debbie tells me that they have done some work for her and it was very good!
They are located on SE Broad Street in the Elberta Hotel and they do first class work making signs and doing embroidery for every occasion!
Find out more about Noogums Graphics & Custom Apparel by clicking here.
The latest new business that has opened on Broad Street is Scoops, and if the steady flow of mom’s and dad’s bringing their children to this store is any indication, there are a lot of folks that love ice cream in Lyons, Georgia!
I’m trying to remember, but was it Harrington’s Five & Dime that was located in this building way back in the 1960’s? Well, no matter, it is now the finest ice cream and candy store to be found anywhere between here and as far away as Savannah!
There were more flavors of ice cream than can typically be found in a big city like Atlanta, I can attest! I chose a cup to keep from making a mess, but the cones were so inviting!
Don’t try to tell me you can’t find the best in our little town of Lyons! I have never seen so much chocolate in one place before in my life!
When I found all the flavors of salt water taffy they had in Scoops, I was hooked! I love this place and you will too! It offers the citizens of Lyons big town amenities to go with our small town living. Who could ask for anything more!
Find out more about Scoops by clicking here.
T-Byrd’s Package Store
We love to see businesses in Lyons prosper and grow! So when they started remodeling the building next to T-Byrd’s Package Store, we started wondering who was moving into the location. Turns out it was not a new tenant. T-Byrd’s was doubling the size of their store to begin to offer a full line of wines!
Yes, the blue building next door is now a part of T-Byrd’s. I’ll have to add a photo from inside when they get all the new wine racks constructed and fully stocked. There will not be a better stocked beverage store anywhere in Toombs County!
It is great seeing the City of Lyons (I like to call it a town, but with close to 4,500 residents, it does qualify as a city) growing. It is also great to see these business making Lyons the place to go if you are hungry, thirsty, needing to get your nails done or looking for antiques. This is a great place to live!
I’m very proud to be a member of the City Council and to be in a position to help create a positive business climate in downtown Lyons. All these new businesses are helping Lyons become a premier better hometown and helping our “Main Street” to be second to none!
Larry Griggers, Councilman
City of Lyons, Georgia