South Charlotte

New Census boosts town

The 2010 Census has been good for business in Indian Trail.

With a population estimate of more than 33,000, Indian Trail overtook Monroe as the biggest town in Union County and is one of the fastest-growing in the area. Businesses are taking note, said Kelly Barnhardt, Indian Trail's economic development coordinator.

"We've definitely seen an uptick in activity," Barnhardt said. "The census numbers were a huge kudos for showing how busy it is here. I think it's good for businesses to see that type of growth."

A number of businesses have relocated or opened in Indian Trail in 2011, ranging from restaurants to the town's only bookstore to a frozen yogurt shop.

Barnhardt said some of the recent business activity may have been spurred by last year's announcement of plans to build a large movie theater in the Sun Valley area.

Some people out of work are opening their own businesses, Barnhardt said.

Tammy and Eddy Harris moved their children's consignment store and gift shop, Butterflies & Bullfrogs, from Ballantyne to a shopping center at 5822 West U.S. 74 in December. Tammy Harris said they needed a bigger space, and the new store added 600 square feet.

The Harrises live in Indian Trail, and Tammy Harris said they got a "good deal" on the new store, which is 12 miles from the previous location on Elm Lane in Charlotte. Her consigner base has doubled since the move, and many customers have followed her to Indian Trail.

"We've done really well in this area," Harris said. "We're just as busy as we were in Ballantyne."

Melissa and Stewart Campbell, along with their daughter Ashley Richardson, opened Books & Quills, Indian Trail's only bookstore, in early May in at 4216 Old Monroe Road.

The store sells new and used books and operates a full-service coffee shop.

Like the Harrises, the Campbells live in Indian Trail. Melissa Campbell said opening a store right now is a risk, but they were eager to create an upscale bookstore that would become part of the community.

"Everybody who comes in just loves it," Campbell said. "We've had nothing but great compliments."

Other recently opened businesses in town include Just Chillin' Frozen Yogurt at 6580-E Old Monroe Road, Madison's Coffee House at 7878 Idlewild Road and Upscale Retail, a secondhand boutique located in the Union Festival shopping center on Old Monroe Road.

More than 60 of the town's businesses will be showcased at Indian Trail's first "A Taste of the Town," 4 p.m.-7 p.m. June 20 at the town's new Crossing Paths Park off Indian Trail Road in downtown.

Anyone from the community can attend, but only Indian Trail businesses will be featured, Barnhardt said. Businesses will not be selling anything, but restaurants will offer samples and other businesses will provide information.

Barnhardt, hired in October as Indian Trail's first economic development coordinator, said she stays busy, often helping new businesses get started or helping an existing business stay in town.

She said the town is working on an economic development strategic plan that will be released later this year or in early 2012.

"It's something I'm really excited about," she said. "I think it's going to be a good tool for us going down the road."