Carthage sees new life as more businesses open downtown

Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 4:25 PM CST
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CARTHAGE, Ill. (WGEM) - Downtown Carthage is seeing new life with more businesses opening. In the past month alone, three new businesses have opened on the square.

Those include The Nail Bar, Charlie Ann’s and Barry Creek Creations.

Before opening less than one week ago, Barry Creek Creations owner Chris Wisehart was operating out of a pull barn on her own property. Before that, she operated in her own basement.

“We put a Morton Building up and I outgrew that and the building here in town came up, so it was perfect,” Wisehart said. “I knew I’d get more traffic and more business.”

Wisehart makes her own wreaths in addition to selling other home décor and clothing.

Wisehart said she wanted to bring her craftiness to an area that was lacking retail.

“I enjoy this kind of thing and I hated to go out of town for it,” Wisehart added. “There’s not a lot of places left where you can come buy clothes, a candle, a wreath or a whole hodgepodge of things.”

For one customer, Dallas City, Ill. resident Cheryl Blythe, more retail options on a local front allows her to stay closer to home.

“I like to stay local, but yes sometimes it means traveling a little bit further distance wise and it might mean the Quad Cities, Iowa City or Quincy, but definitely if it’s here we do this first,” Blythe said.

For Fort Madison resident Lynn Buckley, Tuesday was her first time traveling around the Tri-States for retail shopping since 2019.

She said there aren’t many businesses that attract her attention.

“These [stores] are so much fun, and it’s out of the ordinary that you can find one,” Buckley said. “If we had something like that over in our area it would be awesome.”

Attracting more businesses downtown is the ultimate goal.

Spearheading the effort is local realtor and Carthage Area Chamber of Commerce board member Brenda Young.

Together, Young and her husband are remodeling some buildings downtown.

“My husband is a three generation brick mason, so we are pretty well versed on remodeling and doing a lot of hands on work ourselves,” Young said. “We are the county seat for Hancock County, the courthouse is gorgeous and so the more we can bring around the square and into our whole town the more people will come.”

Young is also a part of Hancock County Economic Development Corporation and the Carthage Industrial Development Corporation.

She said they’re currently in the process of adding a bakery and a coffee shop to the square.

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Officials look to develop the eastside of Carthage with a hotel, other businesses

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