Rider’s property gaining new tenants

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Former downtown clothing store will be a multi-functional center for business

By Marty Finley

After sitting dormant since its closure in early 2011, the former Rider’s Traditional Clothing store at the intersection of Dixie Avenue and Mulberry Street is gaining new tenants.

Three local shops are settling into the space as early as next month, leasing the property from Al Rider, the former clothier who owns the building.

Martha Pride, a longtime Elizabethtown business owner, will occupy the primary space with Estate Sales Etc., a business she started with friends in February that operates now out of 528 W. Dixie Ave.

“It’s extremely exciting to say the least,” she said of the relocation.

Pride’s concept for the business was born when she became a caregiver for several family members. Pride said her house was becoming increasingly cluttered with family valuables passed on to her and she had friends who were facing the same situation.

Instead of discarding the antiques and collectibles they accumulated or divesting them through a garage sale, they struck on an idea to start a business in which they could display and sell the items to the public.

Pride said the store is not a consignment shop and “we’re not a museum. We’re here to sell.”

“Business has been great and (our) customers have been coming back,” she said.

In addition to antiques, Pride’s business hosts estate sales to help families offload valuables if they are trying to downsize their home or in cases of illness or death, she said. Many items in the store belonged to Pride’s family or the families of her friends while others are obtained through estate sales, she said.

Because Rider has maintained the building, Pride said, no advance upkeep or repairs are needed on her behalf. She plans to move into the space by Sept. 4 and will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays.
“It’s just gorgeous,” she said of the building.

When Pride latched onto the idea of claiming a spot in the building, she called on old friend Beth White to join her.

“She hadn’t finished telling me about it when I said ‘I’m in,’” she said.

White, owner of Elizabethtown Florist & Greenhouse on Westport Road, said she will move into another part of the building where she will offer home decor items such as silk flower arrangements, as E-town Florist Downtown. Her primary flower shop will remain open and customers still will need to visit that location for live flowers, she said.

White said she was moved to expand her business by pure love for her hometown.

“As a lifelong Elizabethtown resident, having a viable downtown is important to me personally,” White said. “It should be important to all of us.”

White said she expects to have a presence inside the building by early September and should be fully operational within 30 days.

The building Rider’s occupied is one of the older structures downtown, escaping damage many structures nearby suffered from fires. It operated as a clothing store for four decades.

Its historical significance has attracted one of the architects of downtown’s restoration, Heath Seymour, executive director of the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Heritage Council. Seymour and his wife, LeeAnn, are relocating their art gallery from the former Taylor Hotel to Rider’s, where the couple will highlight vintage pieces, he said.

Seymour said he rented the space inside the former hotel to keep it active until a group or developer showed interest in taking the spot permanently. A Louisville group has shown interest in opening an art studio there, he added.

Since opening the gallery, Seymour has assembled a collective of artists whose works have been featured inside his studio. He said many of those artists plan to move to Wild Earth Gallery & Gifts on North Main Street, which is being revamped.

LaDonna Eastman, owner of Wild Earth, said she will rearrange exhibit space and paint the shop to accommodate the new artists, a half dozen or more of which could be transferring their work. She also is searching for new artists with a monthly fee of $50 to display. The gallery, she said, collects a 20 percent commission on sales.

Eastman said she hopes to introduce the changes to her shop during next month’s Via Colori street painting festival held downtown.

The announcements come on the heels of Elizabethtown officials
authorizing the lease of 133 W. Dixie Ave. across from Rider’s for an interim facility for the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame.

The city also has approved a downtown grant to make improvements to the former Fitz’s coffee shop across from the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce office.

Seymour said interest in downtown is picking up.

“We have several things in the pipeline,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.