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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The downtown Wilmington scene has been something of a concern for residents and businesses alike last few years. But if you walk down Front Street, you may notice a difference in some buildings that have been vacant for years.

Although some businesses downtown are still for sale, many have been taken off the market, and new owners say they’re excited to see what’s in store for their business in downtown Wilmington.

“We are so excited,” said Hillary Ashe, owner of a new store on Front Street called Uptown. “Even more excited than we were when we first came here.”

Ashe says her family decided to move their business to downtown Wilmington from Massachusetts because of all the support she feels the the community gives to the area.

“There is always people really excited about all the businesses coming in and trying to build up the location here,” Ashe said.

Wilmington Downtown Incorporated’s John Hinnant says the more businesses that are successful downtown, the more likely the area is to attract more people.

“When other entrepreneurs see that they’re getting a little extra free push from WDI, and they see that these businesses are not only surviving but thriving in this economy, then they realize downtown is good for them,” Hinnant said.

Marcia Frelke, who just opened her shop Downtown Darlings two weeks ago, says the support from WDI as well as an original feel to the building is what brought her store downtown.

“I wanted to create a shop that had a very vintage classic feel, and you can’t do that in a rectangular box,” Frelke said.

Frelke says she heard about the violence downtown and considered that before making her move, but since she moved in, she has not had any problems.

“It’s just a wonderfully unique area that sometimes gets a bad rap from one instance or another that happens, but it really, overall, collectively is a unique, wonderful space,” she said.

WDI says it has plans for the stores that are still empty, and many have things in the works. It’s all a matter of getting the right fit of business owner and building owner.

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