A stroll down Superior’s new main street full of possibilitiesAs luck would have it, I happened to be on the corner of Belknap and Tower on Tuesday afternoon just as the new Tower Avenue was opening to traffic. I was thrilled to be one of the first to cruise down the thoroughfare and back.
By: Judith Liebaert, Superior Telegram
As luck would have it, I happened to be on the corner of Belknap and Tower on Tuesday afternoon just as the new Tower Avenue was opening to traffic. I was thrilled to be one of the first to cruise down the thoroughfare and back.
I think it is beautiful. I think it will encourage existing businesses to make whatever improvements or upgrades are in their budget. I hope it will generate new found pride, and in some cases, a reversal of negative thinking in the community.
I recently returned from a two week vacation, a long dreamed of road trip to the West via some of the old Route 66 roadways. Talk about marketing your history. These people know how to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.
The older, and sometimes more dilapidated a building might look, the better to operate a business in it. These proprietors not only hawked their wares, they were more than happy to tell you all about the history of their building, the area, and any industry or resources that once made the town great.
Superior was built on industry and labor. Local history is rich with stories worthy of novels and the big screen. Many of the buildings along Tower Avenue north from Belknap fit into that historical tapestry. Let’s work it, Superior.
Along our travels, the better half and I ate at a restaurant in Bandera, Texas. The small town bills itself as the Cowboy Capitol. The restaurant’s history was printed on the back of the menu. The business had been in continual operation for nearly 100 years. The walls were plastered with movie photos of John Wayne. The salad bar was set up on a hay wagon.
There was so much history to see, that I barely noticed the condition of the century old building. Don’t get me wrong, it was clean and sturdy, the service was top notch and the proprietors were friendly and welcoming — but it was old. And it really didn’t look like much from the outside.
Neither did the other buildings along the five or so blocks of the town’s main street. But they housed a clothing store, jewelry and gift boutique, art gallery and even a Pilate’s studio. There were murals on some of the buildings, and small little courtyards in narrow vacant lots between businesses, but I had to look for them, making it seem like a little treasure when found.
By the way, the restaurant was so packed that people were sharing tables. I worried at first that we might be asked to share our table for four with strangers. Then I thought, why not? Maybe they’ll be locals and we can learn about the town. Maybe they’ll be travelers like us, and we can share stories of the road.
It’s about getting a little outside your comfort zone, expanding your experience and opening up to the possibility and surprises of life.
But here in Superior, the ribbon has barely been cut on our new Tower Avenue and already the same, old, negative comments are flying. Sitting in a waiting room right after my tour down the avenue, I listened as one woman said what a huge waste of money it was; it would never attract new business. Who needs it?
I think what she was really saying is that we aren’t worth it — aren’t worthy of something better than what we have right now. I say we are. I say the young families in this area are. I’m saying our children are worth the effort and expense of reviving our economy and providing jobs that will help them stay in Superior.
The new businesses might not be there tomorrow, but we have good businesses on Tower Avenue now and they shouldn’t be overlooked in the quest for newer and better. Globe News is a Superior icon. How many towns of any size still have an original newsstand store?
V.I.P. is in one of our old buildings. The imaginative and quaint interior gives the ambiance of an old Italian village. Always and Forever Bridal offers a personal shopping experience for bridal and special occasion dresses.
The new businesses will arrive, too; maybe a few in the coming months and more next year. In ten years-time, we could have a unique and interesting downtown with thriving small businesses in historic buildings that attract larger businesses to the area, knowing there will be entertainment, leisure and cultural opportunities for their employees.
I can see the R.R. Crossing Café, run by a model train enthusiast with train sets operating daily. Or the Grain Miller’s Bakery, with fresh baked bread and sweet treats for your enjoyment. The Ship Builder’s Hobby and Craft Supplies, and the Lumber Barron’s Fine Dining, and all the little boutiques, bookstores, candy shops, galleries and studios popping up along the street and around the corner.
If you try, I’m sure you can see it too.
Judith Liebaert was raised in Superior and now lives in rural Douglas County. She blogs online as the Mad Goddess™. Send your comments or story ideas to email@example.com.