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Open Streets to Highlight Local Businesses on Magnolia Avenue 
Open Streets 2016

At the Open Streets Event held this Sunday, May 21, from 2 - 6 p.m. on the Magnolia Avenue corridor, officials will close a mile-long segment of the road to cars in an effort to promote walkability and bikeability in the neighborhood.

A large part of having a pedestrian-friendly streetscape is actually having businesses conveniently located along the way that people want to visit. Caroline Cooley, original leading organizer of Open Streets Knoxville, said highlighting local businesses is one of the primary objectives for the event.

"There are so many small, local businesses on Magnolia that are really enthusiastic about participating in Open Streets," Cooley said. "They want and deserve to become more well-known as members of a entrepreneurial community like in other parts of town."

In fact, 60 performers and businesses will be offering free food samples and a range of activities from arts and crafts to recreation.

Faye Burnette, owner of FBL Gift Shop, will have line dancing lessons on her lawn during Open Streets as well as crafts for the kids. Her business is located in a repurposed house with a classic Southern-style covered front porch that makes the heart long for the olden days. Faye said the porch will be open to anyone who wants "to cool off and catch their breath."

Faye's business is a boutique gift shop that sells items ranging between unique toys for children, local handmade items, accessories and decorations imported directly from Africa and Haiti, Christmas decorations year-round, and more.

Faye Burnette

"I try to sell a variety of unique and interesting gifts--stuff you won't find in other stores in Knoxville," Faye said, as she gestured to a table of decor from South Africa. "It's also important that they are affordable."

She also sells framed silhouetted figures of women she makes herself from an assortment of fabrics. One can't help but think of the area's history with icons like nearby site of the former Standard Knitting Mills when she mentions her love of textile fabrics.

Faye's gift shop doesn't even have a sign, but the locals know about it anyway and stream in and out throughout the day.

"I just hope that the greater Knoxville community becomes more aware of Magnolia (Avenue) and the possibilities that exist in this area through this event," Faye said. "There are good businesses in this area that people aren't even aware of."

Across the street, Azim Panjwani, store owner and manager of Green Grocery 2, plans to give out barbecue in the parking lot of his store during Open Streets.

To get an interview with him for this blog story, it took a fifteen-minute wait in line at the front counter.

Just as the line came to a close, in came more customers. "Where are those home-grown tomatoes I saw someone walking down the street with?" a patron called from the door. Azim pointed to a refrigerator at the front of an aisle and continued bagging groceries. 

Green Grocery

"This is my first time participating in a special event, and it's the first time that something's been organized on Magnolia like this," Azim said. "I think it will be good, and maybe put more business in here."

For a full list of performers, businesses, food trucks, and activities that will be available  at Open Streets this weekend, visit www.OpenStreetsKnoxville.com.
Posted by kgibi On 20 May, 2017 at 1:52 PM