What’s the right business mix for downtown Zionsville?

Zionsville jeweler Bob Goodman preaches patience.

As an independent business owner, he’s always looking for ways to improve. And he’s humbled that his customers continue to give him that opportunity.

So although he wants more for Robert Goodman Jewelers and the rest of the town’s historic Village Business District, Goodman knows that’s not as simple as hanging out an “open” sign and waiting for shoppers to show up.

Keeping the quaint Main Street viable as the town ramps up commercial development elsewhere will require finding just the right mix of retail and service businesses to draw—and keep—customers downtown.

“This is tough stuff, so you’ve got to be very patient, very thorough,” he told IBJ for a story in this week’s print edition. “Otherwise, you’re throwing darts at the wall.”

Which is why Zionsville leaders are preparing to seek an expert opinion, in the form of a consultant-led market study and parking analysis. The process isn’t expected to be quick, but officials hope it results in a shared vision for how to move the community forward.

“As we have turnover and new tenants, we need to know what would be desirable so we are prepared to fill vacancies in a way that makes sense,” said Charlie Edwards, chairman of the Zionsville Economic Development Commission. “We want businesses that feed off each other.”

That’s a tough call to make, especially in such a tight-knit community. And in the end, shoppers will decide what’s desirable—or not—regardless of what the study finds.

So how about a preview from our North of 96th readers: What kind of businesses do you want to see in a walkable downtown area like Zionsville’s?

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