A couple of years ago, Fulton’s downtown Brick District was full of empty storefronts. Now jewelry and craft stores are taking over those vacancies and bringing new jobs and visitors to Fulton. These new businesses are part of Fulton’s continued revitalization project to improve economic growth in the community.
Bruce Hackmann, economic development director for the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, said that these new stores help make Fulton a competitive option for people looking to move to Mid-Missouri.
“If they’re looking for something that’s an alternative, maybe a smaller community with a great quality of life, Fulton’s a great alternative,” said Hackmann. “We’re very pleased at the full package we can offer.”
Hackmann said the stores aesthetically help downtown Fulton by filling empty buildings, but also bring an influx of new jobs. Creating Unkamen, a jewelry supply store, moved to Fulton from Rolla in early January and has already brought more than 20 jobs to the area.
Hackmann said that the large number of jobs is unusual for a downtown business district.
Karen Helmrich owns Creating Unkamen. She has run an online store for ten years out of her home, but she said the business kept expanding and she needed a bigger space.
She said even though the store has only been open a month, Fulton already feels like home. She said she wants to offer classes in jewelry making and opportunities for the community to get involved.
“We all gotta work on this together to revitalize wonderful little towns like Fulton,” said Helmrich. “They have so much to offer that generic, big box stores just can’t offer.”
Creating Unkamen joins other artisan businesses in Fulton like 1Canoe2, a print and card store, and FAB Station, a create-your-own craft store.
Fulton’s continued retail expansion gives Hackmann hope.
“We like what the future holds for Fulton,” said Hackmann.