Crestview business owners share thoughts on Main Street challenges, opportunities

CRESTVIEW — While her shop has been in several locations, Lorine “Granny” Johnson is a mainstay on the Hub City’s Main Street.


The seamstress from Baker and owner of Granny’s Attic sewing shop has been in business in Crestview for 45 years.



“This is my fifth spot” overall, and third time on Main Street, Johnson said of her current location, catty-corner from the Okaloosa County Courthouse. “I’ve been at this spot just over three years. Everyone calls me ‘Granny on Main Street.’ ”


While she indicated that she hasn’t always had much choice in her shop’s locale, Johnson said she enjoys conducting business in the heart of downtown.


“Being on Main Street, people walk by and stop, just to see what kind of business it is,” Johnson said.


The county’s new courthouse, which opened in November 2018, apparently is the source of some of that foot traffic.


“A man, I think from the courthouse, just picked up 10 suits that needed the sleeves shortened on every one,” said Johnson, who on Wednesday was altering a bright yellow prom dress.


The courthouse presents a mixed blessing for her business. When the courthouse is open, most nearby parking spots are taken, Johnson said.


Overall, she seems to like Main Street the way it is. And she doesn’t think a shortage of downtown establishments that stay open after regular business hours is a bad thing.



Johnson shook her head of gray and black hair while saying she was not in favor of “nightlife.”


“It’s a reserved community,” she said. “I grew up on a farm. You knew everyone.”


Other business proprietors on Main Street take a different view.


Most evenings, “You could go bowling on Main Street,” said Robert Ellis, one of the owners of the Peaden Brothers Distillery that opened in 2012 in the historic Fox Theatre building. “It would be nice to have a couple of restaurants that stay open until 9 or 10 at night, with live music.”


A downtown restaurant with sidewalk seating also would be a great addition, he said.


As for the distillery, Ellis said it is mostly visited by out-of-towners who find it via web searches.


Business “is going good, but we don’t have the foot traffic so far,” he said.


At the Main Street Eats food truck court, Karon Winder, owner of Kay’s Kurbside Café, said downtown has shopping and eateries but needs entertainment.



Winder said she opened her business about 1 1/2 years ago on Main Street because it is growing and is convenient for her.


However, while downtown festivals attract a lot of people, “once you eat, there’s nothing for people to do,” she said. “Sometimes after dinner you might not want to go to Fort Walton Beach or Destin” for entertainment. “A bar or pool hall would be great for downtown. It would bring the energy.


“It’s 2020. We need to keep up with the times and keep the money here.”