With a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, Marion Bean spoke of downtown Murfreesboro with a fondness that carries years of memories.
Trendy Pieces and Bella’s Boutique owner Judy Goldie (left) recented appear on WGNS with former Altman Jewelry owners Doris and Marion Bean in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo submitted)
He noted the history of downtown, like when the city was the state’s capitol from 1818 to 1826.
Bean even met his wife, Doris, some 61 years ago while she worked as a bookkeeper and sales associate at Altman Jewelry, which is now Trendy Pieces.
At one time, Marion Bean ran MidSouth Sewing Center out of four buildings at the corner of East Main Street and South Church Street. He even opened a post office in the rear of what is now Pa Bunk’s. Slowly, but surely, he acquired three of those buildings, and he now leases them out to new entrepreneurs.
“We still feel like we’re still part of the Square,” Doris Bean said. “In 1949 when I was a bookkeeper and salesclerk, I never dreamed one day that I would own the jewelry store – and the building. But dreams do come true.”
Businesses have come and gone on the Square over the years – some stay for months, while others stay for decades.
“Time changes everything,” Marion Bean said. “Business is good, and traffic is good. It’s really growing. It’s for the best, but it’s weeding down the people.”
The Square stands to lose a handful of its tenants, from Ray Hines to Well Suited, and the futures of The Bungalow Antiques and City Café remain in limbo.
But as the saying goes, “When one door closes, another opens.” And that rings true for Pa Bunk’s owner Corey Williams.
“Recent transitions have opened new spaces on the Square, which is opening the door for more people to follow their dreams and open their businesses,” he said, adding businesses downtown represent an investment in the community.
“This is Murfreesboro,” he said. “This spot in the middle of town – this is truly Murfreesboro. This is why this town is what it is. It’s the heart and soul of town, and it’s keeping that history alive.”
From day one of its creation, Murfreesboro’s downtown Square was the hub of the city, and it has maintained its role as such.
In fact, the Square’s history and architecture entices many small-business owners to call the area home, including Williams.
“This is where it all started – the entrepreneurship and drive of people who started the town,” Williams said. “Their heart and soul is in these buildings.”
While Trendy Pieces and Bella’s Boutique owner Judy Goldie has only been on the Square for four years, the entrepreneur has been a small-business owner in Murfreesboro for nearly a quarter-century.
At a young age of 26, Goldie knew she wanted to own a business and decided to open Phase II, a consignment boutique that eventually found its home on Northwest Broad Street. But she wasn’t finished yet.
“There was this spark of an idea to open a new store,” she said. “We’d been going to market for years, even though we were consignment at Phase II. We were excited about the opportunity to branch out and try something new.”
She knew without a doubt the Square would be her new shop’s home.
“There wasn’t an option not to put it on the Square because we knew that was the direction we wanted to go in,” Goldie recalled.
She discovered a building constructed in 1810 with a for rent sign in the window. Its windows were short and quite different than they are today, of course, as the store housed a jewelry store for 67 years.
“I ended up calling Mr. Bean when I saw his for rent sign and asked if he’d be willing to bring those windows down,” Goldie continued. “Then one day, he shows up saying, ‘If you’re still interested in my place, I’ll cut those windows for you. The very next day, I signed the lease, took the bull by its horns, and went with it.”
Now four years later, Goldie has two shops nestled snugly on the Square.
Goldie said downtown Murfreesboro has a unique atmosphere about it – one unlike anywhere else.
“It’s the heartbeat of our town with its beautiful courthouse in the center,” she gushed. “We are taking the next step to having a historic area that people will be excited to shop in. We’ve seen growth in the last four years we’ve been here. We know businesses come and go, but it’s developed a lot. You can’t take these retailers and restaurants and stick them in a mall area and have the same atmosphere that we have here.”
Just as Marion and Doris Bean’s love for the Square flourished some 60 years ago, so do the same emotions run in the veins of downtown dwellers and shop owners today.
“(Main Street program director) Kathleen Herzog is a hustler,” Marion Bean explained. She keeps everything going, and she’s doing a good job. We need to keep that program alive and kicking.”
He said the Saturday Market is supposed to start the first of June.
“That is great; that is a good drawing card to get people down there,” he continued. “I see a good future for the downtown, and I’m not gonna’ give up on ‘em. Just keep ‘em going and keep ‘em happy.”
Marion Bean’s key to success is keeping his side of the Square filled with retail businesses “because you can’t just have restaurants and law offices in a downtown area.”
“So far, we’re doing a good job,” he said, laughing.