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Henderson Main Street: Charming downtown with friendly atmosphere

By Jo Lee Ferguson
Dec. 27, 2017 at 7:35 a.m.
Updated Dec. 27, 2017 at 7:35 a.m.

Downtown Henderson Friday, November 17, 2017. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)

When James and Jon Nicholson were looking for a place to live out their retirement plans, they found Henderson.

James Nicholson is a fashion designer who once worked in Dallas and New York, and they’re both master florists who had opened a store in New Orleans. They found it was too busy. They wanted to settle down and found their answer in Henderson and the 96-year-old Rayford Florist & Gifts.

“We drove downtown and fell in love with the old building,” Nicholson says of the store’s more than 100-year-old home at 123 E. Main St. in downtown Henderson.

In the four years since they purchased the store, Nicholson has become an unofficial leader of efforts to organize downtown shop owners and promote the city’s Main Street. He maintains the Facebook page “Shopping Downtown Henderson Texas.”

“The downtown has a very different feel to it than a lot of downtowns. It is the heart of Henderson,” he says, describing the range of stores in downtown Henderson — high-end men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, small restaurants, gifts, antiques and more.

“We all pull together,” he says. “There’s a since of community, a sense of heritage, and it goes back to, we understand that if one store is really doing great, we can all pull together and do better. We’re actively pursuing that.”

Good shopping, with beautiful restored buildings and a friendly atmosphere. That’s what makes Henderson’s downtown a place to visit, says Judy Lewis, the city’s Main Street coordinator.

“It’s good to be here,” she says, reciting the driving motto behind the city’s downtown area. Henderson has been a Texas Main Street City since the 1980s.

“We’ve worked many years with lots of improvements downtown,” Lewis says. “Currently, it is a beautiful – and I like the world charming – charming small town. It has that small-town, friendly atmosphere.”

It also has renovated historic buildings, made possible by building owners “who have a lot of compassion and pride in making that downtown area beautiful,” Lewis says.

The city holds its annual Syrup Festival downtown each year, and Christmas activities and events organized by the business owners themselves provide more reasons for people to visit downtown. On Feb. 10, the city will host a gumbo cookoff, with a beer and wine garden, and a zydeco band from 5 to 9 p.m.

In the past year, Henderson added a “pocket park” downtown, with seating, umbrellas during the summer, landscaping and public restrooms. It’s located near the city’s public library, and offers a place for people to sit down and read a book, Lewis says. Heritage Park also is located downtown and features several historical markers.

The Depot Museum, including the Children’s Discovery Center, is located just a few blocks outside of the nine-block Main Street area. Restaurants invite people to enjoy a meal downtown.

“We don’t have any chain restaurants downtown,” Lewis says. “All of these are independently owned by people that live in Henderson. They’ve been around for a while.”

Then, there are the shops, a couple dozen retail stores, gift shops, and antique and vintage stores.

“We have several buildings that have been beautifully, historically correctly renovated,” Lewis says, noting the renovation of the Citizens National Bank building back to its 1930s appearance is particularly worth seeing.

“To me, it’s one of the highlights downtown,” Lewis says. “However, there are other outstanding buildings that have been beautifully renovated.”

Insurance, attorneys and financial services offices, along with barber shops and hair salons round out downtown Henderson’s offerings.

Henderson, Lewis says, advertises itself as the “Heart of East Texas.” It’s right in the middle, an easy drive from just about all of East Texas.

James Nicholson says people from Longview, Tyler and Nacogdoches shop in Henderson, and he’s heard them remark about how they long for their towns to offer the kind of shopping opportunities found in downtown Henderson.

The stores in downtown Henderson work hard not to carry the same lines of merchandise, with a number of them stocking their stores with products made by local residents.

“We’re taking the whole community with us,” Nicholson says.

Here’s a look at some of the businesses and organizations located in and near downtown Henderson

RETAIL/ANTIQUES/GIFTS

Strong-Hurt Pharmacy

Rayford Florist & Gifts

Possibilities

  • Clothing, antiques, home décor
  • 110 E. Main St.
  • (903) 722-0841

North Marshall Antiques

  • 108 N. Marshall St.

Covenant Antiques

  • 103 N. Jackson St.
  • (903) 722-9091

The Curious Wren

  • Antiques, vintage dolls and toys, kitchen spices
  • 123 S. Main St.
  • (903) 655-1234

Merle Norman Cosmetics & 101 Boutique

  • 304 S. Main St.
  • (903) 657-3569

Donovan’s

  • Christmas wonderland, home décor, silk flowers
  • 112 E. Main St.
  • (903) 655-2240

Special T’s & QC Jewelry Boutique

Rachelle’s and Foxx III Salon

Nelda’s Nook

  • Antiques, vintage Christmas, one-of-a-kind items
  • 112 N. Marshall St.
  • (903) 657-2332

Earl’s Men’s Shop

  • 116 E. Main St.
  • (903) 657-6535

Quick Copy

  • Office supplies, custom printing and signs
  • 211 S. Main St.
  • (903) 657-1649
  • < href="http://hendersonquickcopyprinting.com">hendersonquickcopyprinting.com

Kelly B’s on the Square

  • Antiques, clothing, lunch, sweets
  • 128 E. Main St.
  • (903) 392-8288

Faith’s Fashion World

  • Women’s clothing, accessories
  • 120 N. Marshall St.
  • (903) 714-9149

Wild Iris-Kaleidoscope

  • 119 S. Marshall St.
  • (903) 657-9600

Hillbillies Vintage Heaven Antiques & Collectables

  • 112 S. Main St.
  • (903) 649-3149

Sweet Pickin’s Antique Market

  • 113 S. Main St.
  • (903) 780-2476

Peterson’s Home Furnishings

  • 124 N. Marshall
  • (903) 657-5315

Margaret & Ophelia’s Antiques & Uniques

  • 100 N. Marshall St.
  • (903) 392-8260

Revive Salon and Children’s Boutique

  • 114 S. Main St.
  • (903) 646-6290

Western Auto

  • 101 N. Jackson St.
  • (903) 657-3706

P.H.A.T.’S

  • Extension bar and makeup studio
  • 122 N. Marshall St.
  • (903) 722-0734

Mane Street Salon

Bahama Mamaz Tanning Hut

  • Tanning, clothing
  • 119 S. Main St.
  • (903) 392-8846

Tracy Arnold Massage Therapy

RESTAURANTS

MoJoe’s Coffee Café

Brick Street Grill

  • 201 S. Main St.
  • (903) 445-6161

Debbie’s Bistro

Corner Pocket

  • 101 S. Calhoun St.
  • (903) 722-1512

ARTS/MUSEUMS

Depot Museum and Children’s Discovery Center

Henderson Civic Theatre

  • 122 E. Main St.
  • (903) 657-2968
  • hendersoncivictheatre.org

Paint with Pizzaz

  • 104 N. Marshall St.
  • (903) 646-9155 (by appointment)

Mudslingers

  • 102 N. Marshall St.
  • (903) 658-1616

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