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MARION - The second phase of Marion's West End is set to launch Friday with the opening of a new microbusiness space.
The West End Shops are the next part of Annette Perry's vision for the five properties she and her husband, Jack, in one block on in 2017.
The West End Diner, 809 Sixth Ave., opened in October, offering homemade food and artisan goods.
Micro-shops are set to join the diner on the block between Eighth and Ninth streets near Sixth Avenue this weekend.
Perry said this next phase continues her goal of creating a destination for all ages in Marion.
'I've always envisioned a space that would be a destination for authentic spaces and food,” she said. 'It bothered me that we were losing our next generation as younger people move away. ... I was looking for a challenge, and I grabbed it.
'I'm going to convert this block into a place with things to do and places to eat and shop. ... I want this to be something people think about when they think about Marion.”
Perry said the West End Shops are spaces created for small businesses that may have outgrown farmers markets but may not be large enough for a 'typical commercial lease.”
'The shops are in the middle, so they will always get the energy of what's happening adjacent to them,” Perry said.
The shops include a vintage jewelry shop operated by Marcy Zeadow, who has had an online shop.
The Shoe Doctor will be run by Raul Gomez, who offers professional shoe repair and leather cleaning services.
Madison Christenson, proprietor of Clownfish Collectibles, will sell vintage clothing from the 1990s and 2000s, retro candy and other products reminiscent of the two decades.
Staged Dwellings, operated by Keri Dahl, will feature home decor, including candles, baskets, wall art and ceramics.
The fifth space remains to be filled, but Perry will use it now for small meetings and gatherings.
'I have some book clubs and corporations that want to use the space,” Perry said. 'We also have an outdoor space so in the future we can have flea markets and events like that.”
Shop proprietors are renting the shop spaces for $295 a month for the charter year and can lease month to month or by the season. Over time, Perry said, different shops could rotate in and out, depending on the season.
'That's the nature of the micro business,” she said. 'There's a lot of people out there, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many people are operating businesses online here in Iowa.”
With the coronavirus pandemic still with us, Perry said the shops aren't trying to attract 1000 people at once, but she wants to let everyone know they are open.
'Come masked, but let's not let life stop us in our tracks,” she said. 'We have glass all around so you can see inside and not even go inside until you want to.”
The hours and days of operation will vary by shop, Perry said, though all shops will be open Thursday evenings, Fridays from midmorning to midafternoon and Saturday mornings.
Perry said she hopes her ideas for West End Marion bear fruit.
'There isn't a better location to do something really fun for the city,” she said. 'I think even more cool things will happen here in Marion. Marion isn't getting enough credit for the cool things we have going. I think it's the beginning of something really great for this town.”