Longtime Upper King merchants see good, bad

  • Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2013 10:00 p.m., Updated: Saturday, December 7, 2013 11:56 p.m.
Doris Dixon replaces a heel on a pair of shoes at Reeves & Son Shoe Repair Shop on King Street. Dixon is among several long-time merchants who say their businesses haven't benefited much from the growing bar and restaurant scene.

Not being a drinker, Doris Dixon doesn't know a whole lot about bars. But she does know they don't translate into business for her Upper King Street shoe repair store.

"There is nowhere to park now," said Dixon, who has run Reeves & Son Shoe Repair Shop in its current home since 1989. "So my customers drive around the block, get frustrated and go back home."

For longtime Upper King merchants like Dixon, the rebirth of the corridor as an entertainment district has brought mixed results.

The Rev. James Peterson, who has owned Honest John's Records and TV Repair Shop for 35 years, sees more college kids coming in to poke through his vinyl collection. And furniture store owner Joe Sokol has had bar-hopping window shoppers return to buy some of his goods.

But that pales in comparison to the crowds he saw at 2 one morning when he drove in to check an open door at his building. The streets were packed with revelers.

Sokol has heard the rumors that he plans to sell out to a ritzy hotel chain, but he says that's not true. He and other veterans of Upper King are hoping more retail and housing will come in behind the food and beverage influx to give their businesses a welcome boost.

"Property values have been going up," said Jay Rovick, co-owner of George's Loan & Music Co., which has occupied its building since 1987. "If we wanted to sell or rent, it would be terrific from that perspective. But we're trying to stay in business."

Glenn Smith

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