A vision for the historic Bijou theater building in downtown Spartanburg that began more than a decade ago was officially realized on Thursday.
Two new businesses, the Black Derby Barber Co. and the Nail Bar, announced they have signed leases and will be moving into the more than 126-year-old building at 145 E. Main St. this spring.
Mary Freedman, who purchased the building in 2007 with her husband, Arthur Freedman, said it is the first time in years the building, which originally operated as a silent movie house, will be fully occupied.
“This is a great day,” Mary Freedman said. “When we bought this building, we envisioned it being a very busy hub for restaurant and retail activity. We knew it had a lot of potential. We bought it right before the recession and we stuck it out… We’re very happy about it.”
In 2004, the building was renovated to support an international food market, which failed to gain traction.
Throughout the years, the building has supported an herb shop and provided kitchen space, but nothing permanent materialized.
The 20,000-square-foot building has 10,000 square feet of apartment space above a 10,000-square-foot ground floor that features several small retail spaces. The building has access along Main and Broad streets.
During the past 13 months, three new businesses, including Archived Clothing, Hub City Scoops and Downtown Deli & Donuts, have all opened up within the building.
Freedman said she believes the building’s success is a reflection of the momentum that has been building in downtown recently.
“For many years, I’ve said that downtown is on the cusp of greatness,” she said. “It is a result of many people investing and believing in downtown. I have seen a change in mindset that the quality of life of our community comes from a core place—downtown. It’s finally happening.”
Freedman thanked the previous owners of the building for helping to spark the vision for the building. She also praised her current tenants, including Kathy and Michael Silverman, who own Hub City Scoops and The Local Hiker down the street, and Elizabeth Evans, and her daughter Kate, owners of Archive Clothing and Downtown Deli & Donuts.
“I knew this could be a great building, but they really believed in it,” Freedman said. “The city has been awesome to work with.”
Mary Howland, owner of the Black Derby Barber Co., said she and her sister, Sara Sparks, have leased about 1,200 square feet in the building.
Howland said it will be a “throwback” barber shop concept that features hot towels, straight razor shaves, men’s manicures, haircuts, beard trims, craft beer, bourbons and scotch. There will even be a shoeshine station.
The owner said she has hired six barbers for the shop. She plans to outfit the space with antique barber chairs and other equipment passed down from generations of her family who were barbers.
Howland has purchased wine barrels to serve as the barber stations. There will also be a waiting area and retail space featuring a range of products for men.
“When I was growing up, I always remember my parents talking about how vibrant downtown was,” Howland said. “It’s finally getting there and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Lindsay Hatmaker, a former corporate banker who moved with her family to Spartanburg from Columbus, Ohio, six years ago, said she has leased about 640 square feet for the Nail Bar.
The concept will offer a range of nail care services, but it will use natural products that are healthier and don’t produce the pungent aroma of chemicals.
She said customers will be able to order a glass of wine or a cocktail while they are getting a manicure or pedicure.
She has hired three nail technicians and will also open her door to students at the International School of Beauty in Spartanburg who need to earn credit hours.
“My mother was in cosmetology,” Hatmaker said. “I grew up around it and I was often her guinea pig… I always liked having my nails done, but was tired of driving to Greenville to go to a place I like. That’s why I chose Spartanburg. I love downtown.”
The Nail Bar is expected to open in March and Black Derby Barber Co. in early April.
Andrew Babb with NAI Earle Furman brokered both leases.