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Updated storefronts reenergize Tampa

Staff writer

A decade ago, storefronts on Tampa’s main drag were falling apart. The insides of several stores were outdated and in disrepair; the roofs were caving in.

Then David Mueller of the Tampa Community Foundation started pushing for a makeover.

“The idea was just to offer opportunity,” he said. “We were really fortunate in this community and that was right about the time a lot of younger farm families started coming back.

“We’re fortunate we have some job opportunities,” Mueller said. “It’s nice to have some services to go with that.”

The community wanted to update the buildings without sacrificing the history of the area.

“If we completely gutted it and put up a new storefront it wouldn’t have the same character,” he said.

In terms of character, the Tampa Trail Shop has it in spades. The business has no employees, instead pulling from a list of 20 volunteers to maintain the store.

“That’s enough to keep it running,” he said. “It keeps people from getting overwhelmed.”

The nonprofit business was started using $100 donations from residents.

The community doesn’t need anything extravagant, just a place to buy the basics, Mueller said.

“It’s more than a convenience store, but not as much as a grocery store,” he said.

The store makes an effort to support local food suppliers, buying meats from Krehbiels in McPherson, cheeses from Durham, and local eggs.

In addition to the grocery store, there is also a beauty salon, fitness center, and the Santa Fe Trail café.

The café’s previous location was along Main St. and Mueller felt it was important to keep it for Tampa.

“That’s an important part of any community, having a restaurant,” he said.

The café was moved next door and received an updated kitchen to go with a larger dining room.

It is full every weekend, Mueller said.

Kathleen Hyman services the Tampa Trail Salon, and massage therapist Carol Wituk is available on weekends.

Customers visit Hyman from Woodbine, Herington, and as far as Clayton.

“It’s a town again,” she said. “People are coming to Tampa to go to the businesses on Main St.”

Visitors will plan their trips to the salon around going to other businesses like the café, she said.

“It’s a very friendly community, Hyman said. “They make everyone feel welcome.”

His current project is reconstructing a building to be the new library. Construction on the library took less than a year and Mueller is ready to move onto the next phase — getting book donations.

“It’s a community that really likes to read,” he said. “The Duggan family put in Little Free Library about three years ago and it’s just a huge success. There’s always someone there and there are always new books in there.”

Last modified Sept. 13, 2018

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