Published 1:53 am Saturday, October 10, 2009
MaryAnn Johnson believes in Andalusia.
More importantly, she believes in the Court Square and its ability to generate enough traffic flow to sustain her new business — MaryAnn’s.
The same sentiment is true for owners of The Loot and Uptown Salon — each of which is in the process of establishing a business location either on or near the square.
The three are also following a trend of re-establishing a thriving commercial front in the square. In an area where a once vacant building sat in disrepair, now there are elegantly decorated retail spaces ready for business.
Johnson and her husband, Ken, a landscape architect, recently moved back to Andalusia from Birmingham to be closer to family.
Johnson graduated from the University of Alabama with an interior design degree. Her store, MaryAnn’s, which is set to open early to mid-November, will feature her own line of handmade, one-of-a-kind custom jewelry, home interior pieces, children’s clothes “for a realistic market” and also offer event and wedding planning.
It may sound like a strange combination of business ventures, but it’s one that seems perfectly realistic to an interior designer.
“Anyone who has a degree in interior design knows you need the ability to adapt,” Johnson said. “I love different things, beautiful things. I love taking those things and making beautiful creations and beautiful spaces, and that’s what my store is about.”
In an economic time when the market for beautiful things is questionable, Johnson said she is a bit apprehensive about her new venture.
“Am I nervous? Of course,” she said. “But Andalusia is home and I can’t think of a better place to live our life and have our business. There are so many wonderful people here and the location on the square is perfect.
“When we began looking for retail space, we looked at several spots,” she said. “I held true to wanting to be on the square. This building works wonderfully for what I want to do, as well as the whole of downtown. When I look at what WAAO and CJ’s and Sugar Rush and everyone has done with their space, I think it just fits.
“We all want to create a downtown where people can get out, walk and shop, and it’s getting there,” she said.
The Loot’s manager Stephanie Odom said that’s the exact reason for the store’s move to its new location, the bottom floor of the Masonic building.
“It’s a great location for us,” Odom said. “I think that it will not only help the businesses around the square draw more people in, it will help draw more people into The Loot.”
Odom said plans are in the works for “some great window displays to increase foot traffic.”
“Everyone loves to go to Destin and walk and shop,” she said. “I think that Andalusia is doing a great job in creating that type of atmosphere on the square.”
The Loot is expected to reopen in its new location by the end of October.