Florence named top downtown area in Alabama

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) –  If you ask folks in Florence if they feel that they have the best downtown area in the state, the answer is pretty simple.

“I think so,” said Bobby Long, who has lived in Florence for quite some time. “I have traveled a few times, but I always come home.”

According to onlyinyourstate.com, Florence’s downtown strip was named the best in the state. It was number one of seven top main street areas, the only one on north Alabama.

One of the reasons that make downtown Florence what it is: ‘First Fridays.’ That’s one of the main events each month that promotes small businesses there.

Jewel’s Boutique owner Graham Sigle said with the number of out-of-towners who stop by, it’s a good indication the downtown area has something unique to offer.

“Ninety percent of my business on the weekends are all out-of-towners, which is amazing,” Sigle said. “I used to think it was that they were here for family, or a high school reunion, but they’re actually coming to Florence for the weekend to shop and dine out.”

Bobby Long is also a small business owner there. He sells homemade wooden toys at First Fridays. He said he can see how much the downtown area has grown over the years.

“We’ve got more people that is calling this a retirement town now than ever before,” he smiled.  “I look for it to start doing better than it is now.”

With a title as big as “best downtown area in the state,”  there’s no question that it will.

“It’s exciting, it’s great,” Sigle said. “All it’s going to do is help downtown grow.”

Also, First Fridays was also recently voted one of the regions top events by a regional tourism organization.

City leaders hope with the streetscaping project underway to continue to expand the downtown area, they can hold on to that title.