Muskogee leaders said they are working hard to revitalize downtown. City leaders say they are looking for funds that would allow for more downtown development and activities.
"I feel like when you get businesses next to each other, it's more about a community over competition," said small business owner Melissa Poffel.
Poffel, her dad, Dave Ross, and her mom, Stacey Pemberton, all own Festive Nest, and just opened Okie Outfitters in November. They tell News on 6 they saw potential in downtown, even in the middle of the pandemic.
"Really, when we learned that Dillard's and other stories were leaving the mall, we saw a niche in Muskogee - a hole to fill," said Ross.
"We don't have the big box stores that we had anymore, there's a need in our community for shopping and people want to have that personalized shop," Pemberton added.
Muskogee Mayor Marlon Coleman said the city is now seeking investors to grow downtown even more. From Main Street to Broadway, it’s all to bring in more business, nightlife, and dining.
"The vision we have right now is to pursue a combination of public and private funding," Coleman explained. "So, we can curb and gutter downtown, so we can make it walkable. So that instead of rolling up our sidewalks at 5 o'clock, we're open for nightlife. Now is the right time to let Muskogee know - we're open for business.”
Poffel and her family said they stand behind their brick-and-mortars and hope others follow soon.
"It's absolutely something you could just go for. Just take a risk and you could really have a great reward," Poffel said.
Mayor Coleman said the city's goal is to start some downtown projects by the end of the year.