What were you doing in 1946? I can’t remember but then I have the excuse that I wasn’t born yet. A group of businesspeople were busy in 1946 forming the Henderson Center Merchants’ Association (HCMA) and friendly Henderson Center has been an integral part of Eureka’s economy ever since.
I may as well confess at the outset that Henderson Center is my favorite neighborhood in Eureka. When I moved back here in 1993 I spent considerable time looking for a house to buy near Henderson Center but there was absolutely nothing available. Even now, when I drive through I see the ghosts of businesses past. Remember McGaraghan’s? Grace’s Pizza? The Purity store? Steve’s Coney Island when Steve was still there and it was located down by Finnegan & Nason, now the Tailwagger’s Thrift shop? Remember Nygard & Green? I had been a bit worried when Robert’s closed and it seemed that the blight of empty storefronts that has plagued downtown since the economy went south was going to be echoed in the Center. I am happy to report that’s not true.
Henderson Center is thriving. It is the most user-friendly and walkable district in town, and with its unlimited parking – no racing to move your car after two hours- is evolving into the kind of small-town shopping experience that puts the malls of the world to shame.
Let’s define our terms. Henderson Center as defined by the HCMA is everything between D Street and G Street, and from Dollison to Hodgson. Although the HCMA has 60 members at present, there are a total of 120 businesses in the area, many of which don’t fall into the “merchant” category. There are banks and brokers, insurance agencies, realtors, medical offices, ad agencies etc etc. It has been a bit of a challenge to build membership among the non- “merchants” even though membership dues are only $100 annually.
The HCMA has no paid staff and therefore is a volunteer organization with each member also having at least one business to run so most of their expenditures are for promotion of their sponsored events such as the summer Farmer’s Market (Thursdays from 10am to 1pm), the Hallowe’en Trick or Treat , and the Holiday Open House. They have learned to do more with less but look forward to increasing membership so that they can advertise more. The current officers are: President: Jack Rieke of Shafer’s, Vice-President: Linda Jo Alexander of Promises Bridal and Formal Wear, Secretary: Bev Sousa of Bev’s Real Kids, and Treasurer: Sue Johnson of The Shady Lady, window coverings.
The lack of a paid staff has precluded the HCMA from negotiating with landlords as a group but the upcoming changes in the neighborhood are exciting. Look for the old Tailwaggers site to become a pizza restaurant. The former Safeway pharmacy is vacant for now, but is an excellent location that will surely be snapped up. Cornerstone Computers is developing a huge following for its excellent customer service. And the old Robert’s building is being prepped as a grocery and deli, and the liquor license app is already posted in the window. Good things are coming to this neighborhood of mostly independent stores, and I’m looking forward to having a nice glass of wine while the leisurely traffic on F Street cruises by.
Hope they have outdoor tables.