Some say a few tweaks could improve University Avenue

Some of the art featured at Sugar Magnolia. Photo by Grace Baxter
Some of the art featured at Sugar Magnolia. Photo by Grace Baxter

Grace Baxter
Oxford Stories

University Avenue business owners who run fabric, antique, and home furnishing stores said a few small tweaks could improve the already successful area.

Renee Bailey, who has owned Material Girlz fabric store for the past 15 years, said the University Avenue area is still doing very well, and she hasn’t noticed any businesses leaving.

“The people that are here generally stay,” she said, “but there’s been a couple people moving out, and a couple people moving in.”

She said she isn’t worried about the area declining or becoming less successful in the future.

“This side is less hectic and less busy,” she said, describing one of the street’s attributes.

She said University Avenue businesses are more established businesses that have been in Oxford for a while.  However, “Amazon and other online shops are hurting smaller shops,” she said.

Customer parking can be an issue on game day.

“On game weekends, people are gridlocked on the other side of town because the parking is so difficult,” she said.

She thinks new restaurants would be a good addition to the University Avenue side of town and having an arts district would “be wonderful and bring more creative people.”

Amanda Havens, an employee at Sugar Magnolia Antique Mall on University Avenue, thinks University Avenue is a thriving part of town.

She said “internet sales are getting rid of brick and mortar stores,” and some of the “smaller businesses are leaving due to that.”

However, she said, “People who like to shop are still going to come out and shop.”

Regardless of the fact that online shopping is negatively impacting small businesses, she thinks the University Avenue area of town will “only grow because Oxford is only getting bigger.”

She said this side of town caters to the local population, and “being closer to the Square helps.”

She’s noticed stores moving to Jackson Avenue, and is slightly worried that more businesses will move, but thinks once they renovate Kroger, the area will become more crowded.

She said an arts district would be a good idea, but parking is so difficult near the Square, it would need to be changed.

She said a coffee shop is needed, and an outdoor market would be beneficial.

Sugar Magnolia has an art gallery upstairs, and features 50 local artists. She said having an district would be beneficial.

“There’s a lot of local artists around here, and the college students from all over the United States bring their own creativity,” she said.

Missy Wilson, an employee at Provision, a home furnishings store, said University Avenue is not as popular for shopping as the Square, but almost as popular.

She said she “hasn’t seen a whole lot change on University Ave.” She feels like it will stay the same, and “the people on University Avenue are here to stay.”

The only concern she noted was that, “You have to know that they’re there, and that it’s kind of hard to stumble upon if you don’t already know about it.”

Home accessories and furnishings at Provision. Photo by Grace Baxter
Home accessories and furnishings at Provision. Photo by Grace Baxter

She said she “would not like to see (murals) all over town,” but that two or three around town is okay.

When asked about the potential of an arts district, she said, “[There] kind of already is an arts district,” and that it is on University Avenue with the Powerhouse.

Most business owners and employees interviewed felt University Avenue is still a popular area of town, but that small changes could make it better, such as infrastructure improvements, the additions of restaurants and coffee shops, and a possible arts district.

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