TRAVERSE CITY — Amy Reynolds always believed in downtown Traverse City’s retail corridor, even when the trend was for business owners to race off and set up shop at the nearest mall.
Reynolds’ dedication to the downtown shopping district paid off this week when the Horizon Books’ co-owner received the prestigious Lyle DeYoung Downtown Achievement Award from the Downtown Traverse City Association. The award is given in honor of DeYoung, a long-time Traverse City civic leader and business owner who, like Reynolds, always believed in downtown Traverse City.
“It is very fulfilling,” Reynolds said. “I knew Lyle DeYoung — a great and honest business person. I remember his smile his generosity and graciousness. It puts me in pretty outstanding company.”
Reynolds and her husband, Vic Herman, moved their bookstore to its current location at 243 E. Front St., in 1993. It was a different time for downtown retailers — several storefronts were vacant or in rough shape, and many questioned whether businesses in the city’s core could even survive.
“The State Theatre was closed and there was a tire factory on the corner,” Reynolds said. “It was pretty empty. From time to time we felt we were the only ones at the end of the block. We were pretty lonesome.”
Herman and Reynolds always focused on excellent customer service and fostering a sense of community at their bookstore. The strategy worked: customers now view Horizon as a downtown staple that offers books and other items, as well as live music performances at least two nights a week. Visitors also can take in book signings or just sit back, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee and a good read.
“We’ve had very strong community support,” Reynolds said. “It’s a great town for that. This community values public debate, music, art and books. My husband is a great and very smart business person. We’ve owned the building, so we never got caught in the rent escalations.”
Rob Bacigalupi, deputy director of the Traverse City Downtown Development Authority, commended Reynolds and Herman for leading the way for Traverse City’s retail resurgence.
“There was a big shadow cast over the future of downtown, and they took a big leap of faith,” Bacigalupi said.