Two more empty storefronts in our region will soon be occupied by new businesses.

It was confirmed earlier this month that the old Save-A-Lot building in Brushfork is being converted into a new True Value Hardware store and that a once vacant structure in downtown Bluefield, Va., will soon house a coffee shop, hair and nail salon and an axe throwing business.

Work is now underway on converting the old grocery store in Brushfork into the new hardware store. The building was purchased last year by Phil Akers Jr., owner of Planet Power Sports in Brushfork, who has been working since that time to make improvements to the shopping center site.

Akers said the connection with True Value Hardware came about when he was looking for stores interested in coming to the shopping center.

“We’ve signed all the contracts. Inventory is on its way, the shelving is on its way,” Akers told the Daily Telegraph in a recent interview. “We’re putting in about $90,000 worth of shelves and gondolas; and that’s not counting the paint booth, a full paint department. True Value manufacturers their own paint.”

Akers estimates the new store will open sometime between March 15 and April 1. He expects to employ six people initially and then between eight to 10 employees.

Work also is underway on converting another structure, this one in downtown Bluefield, Va., into a business incubator that will initially house three new businesses. 

The new Envision Center located at 115 Spring Street will help start-up retailers and service businesses by providing space, helping entrepreneurs create a business plan and by offering ongoing assistance to the tenants, according to Billie Roberts, the town’s community development coordinator. It will initially house a coffee shop called The Grind, the Lady Project Salon and Academy, which will offer services for hair, nails and lashes, and a third axe throwing business called Axe to Grind.

As its name implies, Axe to Grind is a place where people can throw axes at targets. Roberts said similar axe-throwing businesses have opened in other parts of the country.

“It’s kind of like darts, but with axes,” Roberts said of the axe-throwing trend. “Their atmosphere will be very modern, yet Appalachian style.”

A new Dollar General also is going up quickly in downtown Bluefield, Va. Plus the old Kmart building in neighboring Bluefield will soon be occupied by a new Gabe’s department store, which is creating 75 new jobs for the region while also providing new retail shopping options.

It’s great to see new businesses moving into empty storefronts in our region.

It’s an encouraging trend that we hope will continue. When new businesses set up shop in the region, others will likely follow. The fact that the region is still seeing a year-round influx of out-of-town ATV tourists should help fuel the trend of turning vacant structures into new job-creating assets.

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