The retail segment continues to grow in Columbia County with several businesses opening or set to open in the Martinez-Evans area.
Among the newest entrants to the county include a specialty boutique-style toy store in Evans and an Augusta lamp-repair business's relocation to Martinez.
Trey Allen, an Augusta native and third-generation grocer, recently opened Learning Express Toys next to Academy Sports and Outdoors in Evans. Allen, former owner of area Handy Land convenience stores, said he was looking for a new challenge.
"I sold my company about three years ago and decided this is what I wanted to do," he said. "I read about it and it sounded like fun, and I'm a big kid."
Learning Express specializes in educational toys like puzzles and construction toys, radio-controlled devices, games, stuffed animals, dolls and arts-and-crafts products. The Boston-based franchise sells toys not typically found in big-box stores and other toy store chains, Allen said.
"We are very much in the European toy store mold," he said, adding that like an FAO Schwarz, items in his store are meant to be played with and tested out before buying. The store also features curb-side pickup, where customers can call, explain the occasion, and a Learning Express employee can pick out the perfect toy, charge a credit card and wrap the gift and bring it to the customer waiting in their car.
In August, Brian Smith moved his business, Del's Lamp Repair, from the Hill area to a location in Martinez off Ridgetrial Drive near Belair Road and Interstate 20. Smith bought the business from his mother, Del, when she retired.
Del's, which has been in business in Augusta since 1989, offers lamp and chandelier repair, lamp parts and bulbs, and can even make lamps.
"If it has to do with a lamp I've got it. And if I don't have it, I can get it," Smith said.
In other business news, developers of Marshall Square between Evans Town Square Boulevard and North Belair Road have been grading their parcel for the past month. Don Lawrence, a principle with the group, would not release details about possible tenants for the mixed-use development.
In Evans, Martial Arts America celebrated the Sept. 30 grand opening of its new location on Colben Boulevard across from Howard Lumber. The dojo was previously located next to Omni Fitness on Evans to Locks Road.
In Martinez, national automotive repair chain Maaco will celebrate the grand opening of a location on Martinez Industrial Boulevard Oct. 13. Also coming soon to Martinez will be a new Sonic restaurant, opening in front of BI-LO on Furys Ferry Road at The Pass. The Sonic location on Washington Road, in Martinez, recently closed.
Opening recently in the Grovetown area is Balancing Your Health, an herbal supplement and nutrition store at 4901 Columbia Road.
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