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Some businesses close, others thrive amid pandemic

Lack of foot traffic hurt some stores in Market Square, while others are opening now across Downtown Knoxville.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Since March, we've watched businesses fail and close and some open and thrive during the pandemic.

Just in the downtown area since June, The Casual Pint, Knoxville Chocolate Company, Myrtle's Chicken + Beer, Frussies Deli and Bakery and Viet Bread and Tea have all closed.

Less foot traffic, especially in Market Square, led to more closures.

Knoxville Chocolate Company closed its doors in March when many businesses were ordered to close and never opened back up.

A "for lease" sign is now taped to the window, next to a door locked so long it has cobwebs on it.

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Down a few storefronts, Myrtle's has taped up windows.

Its front patio still has tables, but now only serves as a place for people to hide out from the rain.

Myrtle's website doesn't exist anymore.

Amidst all these closures, three new businesses are opening right next to each other in the Old City.

Hen+Hoc Butcher Shop opened at the end of July.

Kaizan's new restaurant location is under construction now.

In the middle of these two businesses, all in the former Crown and Goose location, is Honeymouth.

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"We built a retail leather goods brand that's rooted and founded in spreading encouragement and kindness and positivity," said owner Georgia Vogel.

Vogel started Honeymouth as an online shop.

She was able to make it through the pandemic by making and selling face masks. For every mask bought, two were donated.

The art teacher at South-Doyle Middle School will now sell her handmade leather goods at her new shop, opening in September.

"Now more than ever I feel like people need a space, community space, some place where they can be that isn't in the home but still kind of insights that same happiness and sparks that same joy," said Vogel.

Honeymouth will host small events, parties, and workshops. There will be a maker space in the store, with Instagram-able murals designed by one of Vogel's former students painted on the walls.

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Vogel will sell other local products at the Honeymouth store, including plants from new home-based, online business Oglewood Avenue.

"I did a Facebook sunroom sale of plants that just didn't fit in my new house," said owner Jade Adams. "That took off and all plants were gone pretty quickly, like within minutes."

Adams has a microbiology degree from UT.

She tied that with her love of plants to open a business mid-pandemic that's bloomed so fast because it gave people in quarantine a new hobby.

"People are at home more so they're looking at their home decor, they're kind of stuck at home and so having a plant kind of teaches you how to care for it, you get to watch it grow," said Adams.

Adams said she's lucky she can do all her business online and didn't face the same fate as many of the brick and mortar stores that were forced to close.

She is hoping to open up a space or plant warehouse next year.

Adams and Vogel hate to see other businesses close, but encourage other entrepreneurs not to hold back even in uncertain times.

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