PRINCETON — Storefronts keep filling up along Mercer Street as new businesses move in and entrepreneurs continue to seek out locations where they can set up shop.
“There’s not a lot left,” Lori McKinney of the Princeton Renaissance Project said when asked about Mercer Street’s available storefronts. “We have businesses waiting to go in, but there’s not enough storefronts for them. Right now, there’s a few buildings that could be bought and renovated.”
McKinney said the Renaissance Project would like to see investors, especially local investors, acquire the available properties and renovate them.
“If a local person bought a building and renovated a storefront, they would have a tenant before they could count to 10,” she stated.
Specialty shops, a bookstore, coffee shops, art galleries, a doughnut shop, a microbrewery and restaurant, and more enterprises now populate the length of Mercer Street. Other entrepreneurs are making plans to become part of the community.
Brittany Massaroni of Princeton said that she has plans for two Mercer Street stores. The first business, The Grassroots Exchange, will have individual rooms that will serve as miniature storefronts.
“It will vary quite a bit,” she said. “We’ll be investing in startup businesses, entrepreneurs that have their own products and services to showcase. It will be quite a wide variety. It could be anything from somebody who creates their own art or their own furniture as well as clothing. I already have one potential tenant who makes her own body butters and lotions and hair products. I’m hoping to be fully open by July 1, and we’d like to have a soft opening by the middle of June.”
Massaroni also plans to open a clothing store.
“It is a luxury resale store, Armadio Luxury Exchange,” she said. “Armadio is Italian for wardrobe. My heritage is Italian. It will be a women’s clothing and accessory store and eventually, but not right off, in a couple of years we’ll be expanding in men’s and children’s clothing.”
Renovations underway at the Princeton Renaissance Theater is among the work going on along Mercer Street. When the work is finished, the theater’s main focus will be to offer movies and host plays and other events not only on its main stage, but also at black box theater for smaller shows. Another feature will be a museum dedicated to the late Bob Denver, best known for playing the title role in the television show “Gilligan’s Island.” A satellite station for Little Buddy Radio, which was founded by Denver and his wife, Dreama Denver, is part of the plans as well.
In the past, Mercer Street has been the scene of large festivals, but “miniature festivals” have taken their place for now, McKinney said.
“We’re doing small events regularly,” she stated.
These events include the First Friday Concert in the Park from 5 to 8 p.m., and there are sidewalk sales every second Saturday of the month,” McKinney said.
“And the third Saturday is Cruise-In,” she said. This event is an opportunity for people to display their vintage cars and trucks along Mercer Street.