Seemed like there was a shift in time Saturday night in downtown Erwin.

And it wasn’t just because of the many antique cars lining the streets. No, it was the number of people shopping, dining and enjoying a summer evening in the historic business district. It was reminiscent of decades past when downtown was bustling with people and energy.

A car show, a band playing good music and businesses staying open late – that’s a winning combination, and it’s all thanks to an informal group calling themselves the Downtown Merchants Association.

Years ago, there was a very active merchants group that worked hard to promote downtown, and it seems the time has come again for another similar organization.

When some of the merchants met recently at Erwin Town Hall, the common refrain was “let’s put feet on the streets” – that is, customers back in downtown. But merchants weren’t just asking for a hand out. Business leaders discussed ideas that would bring folks to downtown (concerts, a sidewalk sale, holiday events), and they were putting money into the plan, too.

There are many new businesses in downtown Erwin: Hawg-n-Dawg BBQ & Coneys, Under the Apple Tree, the Blue Ridge Pottery Shop, The Next Best Thing and Forever A Diva. We have a wonderful movie theater, a video rental store, more antique stores and eateries, banks, a florist and more.

Unicoi County’s two oldest businesses – Liberty Lumber and The Erwin Record – are operating there, too.

Some downtown merchants feel like they’re often forgotten or neglected. But despite that, they still have optimism and see promise in Erwin’s vital and historic business district. And they’re willing to put money and the needed marketing into it to make success happen.

We applaud them for a job well done – now and in the past.


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