Downtown Abilene is becoming more attractive to business and not just in the aesthetic sense, although it is looking spiffier with the sidewalks and alleys being cleaned up and posters in storefront windows.
Several businesses have decided that downtown is the place to be.
Midwest Snow Cones, for example, has decided to settle down there. Owners Emily and Cody Miller are opening Midwest Snow Cones and Creamery at 403 W. Third. They will add house-made ice cream to the snow cones they will serve all year long.
They are especially excited, Emily said, because they will be using Hildebrand Dairy products from Junction City in their ice cream.
Emily said they plan to have six or eight flavors — the basics, such as vanilla and chocolate but also a few surprises.
James and Sabrina Holland who own the building are renovating it for them, Emily said. She doesn’t have a firm opening date yet, but hopes to be scooping the cold stuff by the middle of August.
They’ll keep the Snow Cone truck, now often parked by West’s Country Mart, for special events such as the Central Kansas Free Fair coming up.
Another Abilene business making the move to downtown is Waddell & Reed financial planners.
Partners Travis Sawyer and Ann Strunk decided they were ready to own and purchased the building at 311 N. Third that housed Family Eye Care.
They had been based on North 15th but were excited about the revitalization they saw downtown, Strunk said.
Their first day in the new building was Monday. Once they get settled, they have plans for the outside of the building as well as the remodel inside, he said.
“It’s feeling more as part of the community,” Sawyer said.
Tray Green also likes the sense of community in downtown Abilene. He and his wife, Jennifer, opened Cowork Abilene on the second floor of the United Trust Building on June 1, officially.
He has a 5-minute commute from his home, Green said, but he could have had a 2-minute drive if he had opened in north Abilene.
He chose downtown because the services he doesn’t offer — printing, food, designers, photographers — are all just a few minutes’ walk away.
Cowork Abilene offers office space and services to people who may not need a full-time office or who are maybe just getting started and can’t afford an office of their own. They are getting fiber-optic cable for fast internet service.
Clients can pay a one-day drop-in fee, or subscribe by the month. Subscribers already include commodity traders, some nonprofits and Manpower.
Both Greens are consultants and had been looking at options besides working out of their home.
“This time, it seemed to make a lot of sense,” Tray said.
Apparently, he was right. Business has been so good that they are taking over the space downstairs that became available when Cedar Street Market moved to the former Steinhauser building to expand.
Kristy Kohman also decided it was time to quit working her photography business out of her house and bought the building at 303 N. Cedar, which became vacant when the bridal shop moved to Salina.
“I decided I needed a studio,” Kohman said, about opening True Blessings Studio which had a grand opening this spring.
She actually needed more than a studio. She offers full service to her clients, from scheduling a shoot to framing the finished photo.
In between those services, she has a playroom for children, a sitting room for adults, two spaces for photography and a nursing mother’s room.
“I wanted the whole package,” she said.
The nursing mother’s room is open to anyone downtown not just her clients, Kohman said.
“I want to be a blessing to downtown,” she said.
Another new-to-Abilene business that aims to help people is Never Surrender MMA. Owner Sam Kleinbeck produces professional mixed martial arts fights at Tony’s Pizza Events Center in Salina, among other places.
He is turning the former Chisholm Trail Auto, 209 Texas, into his first training gym and hopes to be open by the first of September.
Never Surrender which is owned and operated by all veterans will offer classes in boxing, kick-boxing, mixed martial arts and self-defense, especially for women. There will be lots of kids’ classes, Kleinbeck said, including ju-jitsu and anti-bullying.
Never Surrender MMA also campaigns for suicide prevention for veterans.
Kleinbeck said he chose downtown because “downtown brings all the action.” Also, he wants to give back to the community, he said.
If you miss the next professional fight Sept. 14 in Salina, you can catch one next summer when he offers a mixed-martial arts fight in Sterl Hall.
Contact Jean Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.