Three Downtown Business Celebrate Openings with Block Party

By Benjamin Cox on September 23, 2023 at 7:12am

Three downtown businesses held their grand opening last Saturday with a block party.

Clara Hamel, a therapist from Carrollton, purchased Just Good Trade from Rhonda & Alan Kircher in June. She says that opening the store is the fulfillment of a dream to start a fair trade store. She says her first visit to Jacksonville was at Just Good Trade: “When I found out it was for sale, I was hoping somebody would buy it. Then, it went on and on. I was worried about it not continuing, so I decided to just jump in and do it myself.”

The store will now operate as Kindred Market at 72 East Central Park Plaza. Hamel says there are a few changes people can expect: “We just really expanded upon what Rhonda, the previous owner, had. We have incorporated some more home goods, a few different product lines, but we’ve really tried to keep her basics. Many people really loved a lot of what she did. We’ve changed the look a little bit, but we’ve tried to keep some of her core stuff.”

Social media followers are encouraged to now follow the Kindred Market Facebook page on further updates for the store and any special sales or highlights of new products.

Just a few doors down, Our Town Books re-opened with its new owner, Khristina Helmich. Helmich purchased the store from Jessica Gale back on July 15th. The store remained closed while Helmich made some minor changes inside.

Helmich says her dreams of owning a book store started when she was a little girl, spurred by time spent with her stepmother watching BBC movies and writing short fiction in grade school: “I was a professional graphic designer for 12 years. I lost my job last August. Then, after looking for a job for awhile, I got kind of burnt out looking. I couldn’t find what I was looking for. A friend of mine, who actually introduced me to this store in the first place a long time ago, sent me a text saying that the bookstore was for sale and that I should buy it. I sent the message to my husband and asked him, ‘Can we buy the bookstore?’ From there, we bought the bookstore.”

Helmich says there are a few minor changes that people will notice inside at 64 East Central Park Plaza: “It’s very open in the front now. We added more chairs. We added a little chess table. We really want people to just be able to come in and have the room to sit, and read, and hang out. The kids’ room – I have 3 kids of my own – so the kids’ room was a big deal. That looks pretty different now. It’s a little bit of extra magic. Jessica did such an amazing job. I’m really thankful to her for what she’s already done. We are hoping to build on that.”

Then, down on the corner at 74 North Central Park Plaza, the former owners of Gilham House, Colleen & Tim Flinn who own Haberdash and Nothing Fancy Supply, have combined their storefront and officially opened under the umbrella as Flinn’s Mercantile.

The Flinns say it’s a relief to have the building, which has sat dormant for a few years, renovated and open for everyone. Colleen Flinn says it feels really good to have the bottom floor mostly finished. Tim Flinn says that all of their locations over the last year has been a bit crazy: “Having everything here now is…yeah. Just to be on the corner of the plaza. It’s such a good location, and to just see the building used again. It just feels exciting.”

The three businesses all celebrated with a large block party last Saturday morning for their grand openings that were well attended.