FAQ: Why Downtown?

“So…. Why did you all decide to open here?”

That, my friends, is the top question that we are asked all the time. (#2 is if we know when the cobbler next door will be in.) Although I would like to say that it was a carefully calculated investment that we planned for several months, that is not our truth. Our decision to invest our lives into Downtown Winchester was made from a simple recipe of 1 part opportunity, 1 part good timing, and 2 parts gut feeling.


Like most good things, it started with beer cheese. At the Beer Cheese Festival in 2014, I happened to walk by a storefront with absolute auction signs up in the windows. The condition of the outside was weatherworn and forgotten, but not horrible. Signage said that the auction was set to take place at the end of the month, so I snapped a photo so I would have the information to go online and research.

We weren’t looking for a place, per say. Carvel and I were happy at the time with the small building in our backyard that used to be my grandfather’s (and great grandfather’s before that) woodshop. But, realistically I knew that there was a threshold to a 16x16 ft studio; and we were fast approaching it.


I am from Winchester, and always loved Leed’s Theatre. The idea of being directly across the street from it was exciting; I wanted to see the twinkle of the marquee lights illuminate my home. Ideas of having them as our neighbors swam in my head, and ideas of collaboration whirled. We knew that there were glimpses of revitalization happening in the area, and I wanted to do my part to help things along.

After debating and deliberating, we set a budget that we were willing to pay for the building at auction and left it up to the universe to make the decision for us. If we were supposed to make the investment, then fate would let us purchase it below that amount.

My winning bid was about half of our budget. Cue the angel choir!

So from there, we were committed. I put pottery making on hold and threw myself into renovations full time. Carvel worked his job and would help on nights and weekends. My parents (who are by all accounts the most amazing humans to walk the planet) served as workers, extra hands, mentors, advisors, and all-around cheerleaders in the months of renovations that followed.

To boil it all down, we decided to make an investment into North Main Street because we believe in making a difference within your community. I am not one to sit around and wait for things to happen for me; I am more than willing to jump in and do some work for it. The simple truth is that nothing will happen unless somebody steps up to the plate. I want a hometown to be proud of, and now I am a part of making it so.

And we aren't the only ones. Currently (April 2018) there are several buildings in our downtown that are under construction, working towards the next stage of our community. 11 S Main was recently renovated and is currently looking for tenants downstairs. Off the top of my head I can think of 5 properties that are in the process of being transformed; including one of which the owners will live above the storefront (like us!) and also a new restaurant. I have shared some of our before-and-after shots of our own North Main Street renovation before, but Main Street Winchester will be hosting another Urban Loft tour this fall so you will be able to explore these buildings for yourself.

If you're interested in making your own mark, now is the time to do it. Here are a few buildings that are currently for sale in Winchester - you would be surprised at the oppurtunities that lay hidden in these gems.

Ashley Norman

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