NewsPolk County


Downtown Bartow continues to expand as businesses find success

Downtown Bartow
Posted at 4:50 AM, Feb 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-11 07:33:49-05

BARTOW, Fla. — Take a walk through downtown Bartow and you'll find just anything you can ask for.

Good restaurants, bakeries, and shopping.

Main Street Bartow is the organization responsible for connecting business owners but also preserving the history of downtown. Over the past few years, the area continues to grow.

"We host all the events to organize all the parades, the festivals, our shows, craft fairs. But the main thing that we do like also is getting feet on the street. That's kind of our philosophy is getting people to Bartow to support our local businesses, and that's not just our community. I mean, our community is a great supporter of us. But we want to draw people in from Winter Haven and Lakeland and all the other areas surrounding so they can see how awesome our town is, too," explained Linda Holcomb, Executive Director of Bartow Main Street.

Once full of vacant space, it's now tough to even find somewhere for business owners to rent.

"When I first came. We had a lot of empty storefronts over on Central as well as the rest. So as fast as I get an opening down here, which is where we feel it I've got a waiting list of people that want to come into the downtown," explained Holcomb.

In fact, a lot of these businesses are finding so much success online or at Bartow's events that they need to expand into a brick-and-mortar space. Meanwhile, the community here is standing by and ready to support them.

Sandy Harbin, Owner of Sweet Magnolias Cafe said, "Oh, majorly, majorly. During the pandemic, our businesses didn't miss a beat. We had a better year than the year prior."

Holcomb said, "The community came out in masses to support our downtown businesses. And our downtown businesses really worked hard to give a feeling of safety. They did everything from curbside pickup to businesses that didn't do delivery, did delivery. And they did their part. And then the community rallied around them and continues to rally around."

Main Street Bartow holds about 75 events a year.

Click here to find out what events are coming up and how to get involved.