Allie Hernandez and her mother, Judy, recently opened up a clothing boutique called Shelvie Jean. Judy (not pictured) had dreamed of opening up a store with her mother, but when she died of ALS, Judy decide to pursue the venture with her daughter and name it after her mother, Shelvie. (Staff photos: Jessicah Peters)
COVINGTON — Soon after stepping into a new position with the economic development department of the Covington-Newton Chamber of Commerce, Serra Phillips has already seen an increase in businesses wanting to expand or move into Covington.
As the the director of commercial development, Phillips searches out locations and real estate, studies traffic counts and more. One business woman came to her for help with a specific vision in mind. Within two weeks, Judy Hernandez and her daughter, Allie, held a soft opening for her dream retail store on the Square.
Phillips said she met Hernandez who came into her office with a plan for a clothing boutique and just needed the perfect property.
“We were her starting point. She came in and said what her dream was and asked if we could help find the property for it. We showed her a few locations, pointed her in the right direction with the city of Covington’s departments and within two weeks she opened,” Phillips said.
Hernandez held a soft opening Sunday for her store, Shelvie Jean, located off Monticello Street in the former Covington Flower shop beside Plain Nuts.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. My mother, Shelvie Jean, and I had plans to open the store called Paparazzi before she died of ALS,” Hernandez said. “But after that happened, I decided to move forward with our dreams, open the store with my daughter and name it after my mother.”
The boutique offers a variety of trendy clothes and soon will have small purses and shoes. Hernandez said the continuous growth in the Square helped her decide where to open the shop.
“I’ve lived in the city for 12 years now and I really think now was the perfect time to open. At our soft opening, we were packed, and it’s so exciting to have the community’s support,” Hernandez said.
But Shelvie Jean isn’t the only new businesses opening in Newton County. The Martin’s Crossing Shopping Center located off U.S. Highway 278 will soon have three new businesses, including a sports bar, pizza restaurant and a home medical supplier.
With a location in Monroe, Carmichael’s provides high-tech pharmacy services such as in-home I.V. therapy, pain management and counseling, diabetic education, customized breathing treatments and medications and quality home medical equipment. The company will be opening in Martin’s Crossing by the end of August, Phillips said.
Carmichael’s owner Greg Hickman said he’s looking forward to being a part of the community.
“We perceived a need for a full service independent pharmacy in the Newton/Covington area,” Hickman said. “Carmichael’s will provide a professional pharmacy staff with excellent customer service.”
Martin’s Crossing will also add two eating establishments: Little Phillies and Marco’s Pizza.
Little Phillies, a local restaurant best known for its cheesesteaks, will open a sports bar restaurant but continue to keep its current location on Industrial Boulevard. The new location should be open between September and November, Phillips said.
Marco’s Pizza is looking to open its second store between Ingles and former Walmart spot at the shopping center. The pizza chain already has a store at the intersection of Brown Bridge and Salem roads. Phillips said she’s unsure when the owner is planning to open the second location.
“Having buildings available for businesses to move in is a big draw. Martin’s Crossing is also a great location with high traffic counts,” Phillips said. “People still refer to it as ‘the old Walmart’ and they haven’t forgotten about it. It’s time for some new businesses to move because Covington won’t let that shopping center die.”
Some businesses owners also want to start fresh. Newton residents will also have a brand new dining option when high-end sandwich shop Jimmy John’s builds a new store on U.S. 278 near Krystal, across from the “coming soon” Ross clothing store.
“We’ve seen a great upswing in retail and commercial recruiting,” Phillips said. “A lot of people are interested in having their business in Newton County, but especially the city of Covington.”