Main Street Crestview is more than just a business center; it's a community

By Sharon Dooley | sklscoops@cox.net

CRESTVIEW — Across the nation, developers have returned to outdoor strip malls to recreate a sense of a small downtown that was commonly found in the early 20th century.

Crestview has its own version of such a mall, but it is the real deal: Main Street.

“We are so blessed here,” said Sandra B. Wilson, executive director of Main Street Crestview Association. “We are accredited with Florida Main Street.”

More (March 2020):New park, parking spaces coming to downtown Crestview

Florida Main Street offers technical assistance with the goal of revitalizing historic downtowns and encouraging economic development within the context of historic preservation.

Main Street in Crestview boasts more than 100 types of businesses and organizations, eateries and professional offices.

“It’s more anonymous if you walk into a mall,” Wilson said. “If I walk into Casbah Coffee, they know what I want.”

Casbah Coffee is just one of the many locally owned businesses that make up Main Street in the heart of Crestview. Main Street houses more than 100 types of businesses and organizations, eateries and professional offices that include long-established Crestview Plumbing and Hardware, hair salons and barbers, antique shops and even a satellite for Florida A&M University.

Sandra Wilson is executive director of Main Street Crestview Association.

More (March 2019):Main Street Crestview Association earns national accreditation

The Okaloosa County Courthouse serves as the focal point, showcasing its impressive architectural exterior and updated and improved interior.

“We have Back Home Bakery Café,” Wilson said. “They make some beautiful cakes and pastries.

“A lot of people are always surprised about how busy it is here at lunchtime,” she added, with both walk-in restaurants and a food truck park.

Through combined efforts shared among Main Street Crestview Association, the city, the county and each business owner, Main Street has become more than just a business center.

“We’re a good community. We’re coming together as a team. That makes a difference,” Wilson said.

She added that the Main Street Crestview Association facilitates several festivals and events throughout the year, with 2020 being the exception because of the coronavirus pandemic and health safety. In a normal year, Main Street sees about 10 events.

These food trucks add to the ambiance of historic downtown Crestview. The city of Crestview has laid out a plan for expected growth.

“That’s the cool thing. We can close down the Main Street (to traffic), and we have parking on the side streets,” Wilson added. The events are usually family-oriented, including the New Year’s Downtown.

The retail and restaurant businesses often provide shopping and food options to the crowds during the events.

Humans aren’t the only ones who get into the spirit of the Main Street Crestview Association’s annual Fall Festival, as this pair of pooches demonstrated during the 2018 event.

“We do a strawberry festival,” Wilson said. “For that event, we do arts and crafts only. Anything (the vendors) sell has to be homemade.”

She said that artisan foods and crafts bring attention to a local talents.

While many retail chain businesses have struggled during the pandemic, Wilson said that most of Crestview’s Main Street businesses have maintained or thrived. She also noted that two new businesses opened in the midst of the pandemic.

The Main Street Crestview Association was one of 32 Florida Main Street Programs to achieve accreditation in 2019.

Wilson added that many small-business owners purposely seek property on Main Street: “We have a spot on our website about vacant buildings.”

For information about upcoming Main Street festivals or available business space, visit www.downtowncrestview.org.