Downtown Dade City adds to its ‘eclectic mix’

New storefronts in downtown Dade City are creating a buzz.

One of the newest additions is Flint Creek Outfitters, which opened nearly three weeks ago at 14129 Seventh St., at the intersection with Pasco Avenue.

The prime retail spot had been vacant more than two years following the closing of Remember When Antiques Mall.

A grand opening is planned for January.

Business owners Gordon and Kathy Comer of Dade City also operate Flint Creek Outfitters in Ocala. A store in the Westshore district in Tampa recently closed.

“We felt like for Dade City this is something that’s not been seen before,” said Ian Baldwin, manager of the Dade City store.

John Moors agrees, and the executive director of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce can point to at least two other new businesses filling a niche in downtown – Truly Mediterranean Grill and Rolando’s Cigar Lounge.

“Those particular businesses are really welcome,” Moors said. “It’s adding to the eclectic mix of historic downtown.”

Moors believes the city, and even new development in Wesley Chapel, set the stage for the retail uptick in Dade City.

“It started with the city,” he said. “The city put its money in a new city hall.”

The 22,000 square-foot building will be completed in early 2016 at a cost of about $5.9 million. It replaces an aging structure dating to the 1920s.

“But, some of it has to do with growth to the south in Wesley Chapel,” Moors added.

The chamber has more than 440 members within the “greater” Dade City area, including businesses from Wesley Chapel to Brooksville. Some Lutz businesses also belong.

The growth is attracting a younger population from the millennial generation that enjoys the live, work, play lifestyle, and Moors said Dade City, with its traditional small town environment, is an option for them.

“They are saying ‘we can live in an authentic community and still be connected with high speed Internet where we live and work’,” he said.

Saint Leo University and Pasco-Hernando State College also are part of the mix. The Dade City Merchants Association has stepped up its marketing and special events.

The Florida Department of Transportation is upgrading U.S. 301, and plans are under way to connect a regional multi-use trail system including Hardy Trail in Dade City.

“One of the reasons Flint Outfitters owners decided to relocate (to Dade City) is that they saw some of the changes happening and saw other businesses opening,” said Moors, who knows the Comers. “They are certainly tailoring to a higher-end clientele.”

According to the company’s website, the family business began in Michigan in the mid-1960s with patriarch, Cecil Comer, who opened Apache Trailer Sales. Comer moved his family to Florida in the 1980s, and with his son Gordon, pursued opportunities in commercial real estate and trailer parks.

Flint Creek Outfitters is named for the creek surrounding a family farm in Antioch.

The store offers men’s and women’s outdoor clothing apparel and accessories. It also has equipment for hunting, fishing, kayaking and camping.

Fly tying lessons and special fly-fishing competitions are planned.

Flint Creek will have a full repair and service department for bicycles, and sell bicycles from the Cannondale Bicycle Corporation.

Guided tours and excursions can be arranged including trips to Costa Rica and Alaska, and trout fishing in Tennessee, according to the website.

“Everyone says a place like this has been needed for awhile,” said Baldwin. “We’re filling a void that was needed here.”

Published December 16, 2015

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