Seated in the heart of downtown New Castle in the newsroom of The Courier-Times, I hear pounding and machines, trucks and working men and women just beyond my windows.
It's the sound of progress.
It's a relatively new sound. I've sat in the newsroom most weekdays for the past 30 years and only in the recent ones has there been this sound.
I've always heard talk of a downtown renaissance. Those who remember the good old days of busy streets on a Saturday night, of bustling department stores and one-of-a kind housewares and clothing shops have often spoken of how great it all was and wondered why it couldn't be that way again.
I figured they were longing for something that could no longer be. After all, the past several decades the trends were toward fleeing downtown for the busiest street in town that took you north to Muncie or south to the interstate and Indy, and big malls were where it was at.
But something has happened. Things are swinging the other way. Some of the malls are dying. Dead is the Anderson Mounds Mall, for example.
And one by one, the unique shops run by entrepreneurs with a vision and love for this city are locating back downtown. Consider 1822 Vintage and Dance Studio, Unique Boutique, the classy Twin Lions, and more are coming. I see the 1400 Plaza with its entertainment venue and parking spaces. The healthy smoothie shop, an ice cream shop on the way.
It's exciting to see the young people claim downtown. It's pretty amazing and beautiful! They have become the community leaders who always pined for the way things could be. Only it's happening!
And part of the trend is found in Carmen and Scott Cash. This is their story. And I thank them for letting me tell it in a recent Courier-Times article, reprinted here.
The move of their business to downtown New Castle began three years ago this past October when Carmen Cash had something rare – a day all to herself with no plans.
The busy working wife and mother of four rarely gets such a thing.
On this one, while reflecting and praying, she heard this inside her spirit: “Go downtown and drive around.”
The impression was so clear that she did it. The New Castle resident hadn’t been downtown for a while, and hadn’t seen the transformation unfolding.
“It was almost like I was being introduced to a new city,” she recalls. Yet after driving around for a while, she still didn’t know why she was there.
Then she saw it.
A for-sale-by-owner sign. It was for the 1872 Keiser Building. Although the space at 1321-1323 Broad Street appeared run down and perhaps nearing demolition, Carmen had found her “why.”
She wanted to buy it and relocate her family’s hair salon, Colour’z, inside the vintage space.
“It was God,” Carmen says of the experience. “It was a Holy Spirit moment.”
Another surprise came at husband Scott’s reaction. Scott, a 20-year employee of Draper, Inc., tends to think things over carefully and avoid rash decisions. This time, his reaction was quick. He was on board.
In fact, he says he knew it was of God.
When they toured the property for the first time, Carmen didn’t see a tired, old building. “All I could see when I walked in was this completely restored building.”
She says, “I love seeing things built from the ground up and being restored.”
At the time, the property was owned by an individual, then taken over by the not-for-profit Preserve Henry County, and then restored by the non-profit down to its good bones and interesting features. Those features include rare artistic glass windows over the front entrance, a skylight, brick walls and a brick arch.
The Cash couple closed on the building one month ago. Now the emphasis is on refurbishing and decorating the interior to honor the past yet meet demands of a busy shop behind the 1321 Broad St. storefront. It will provide working space for nine stylists and other support staff.
Carmen’s dad Greg Davis founded Hairitage in 1976. He and his wife, Carmen’s stepmom, Martha, changed the name to Colour’z in 2008. The couple lives in Greenfield, formerly New Castle. Her mom and stepdad are Nancy and Jim McCullers of Lewisville.
Scott is the son of Jerry and Ladona Cash of Spiceland.
The couple plans to change the salon and spa’s name to Selah and open it this summer.
What they know for sure is they want Selah to live up to the word’s meaning, “to pause and to reflect.”
Their mantra is “Pause, reflect, renew.” The salon’s name comes from the Bible’s book of Psalms.
Carmen says, “We want to stop the craziness of life and give them a space to take a break, pause and to relax.”
The shop’s offerings include hair, massage, eyelash extensions and facials.
Says Scott, “We’re simply at peace in the whole process. I feel like He (God) has a heart for this city.”
And so do the Cashes.
Tri High School sweethearts, she is from Lewisville and he from Spiceland. Both went on to Ball State University where he studied sales and marketing and her major was dietetics.
While he went to work at Draper, Carmen became interested in her father’s second salon in Greenfield. After a successful career in Mary Kay leadership, Carmen attended cosmetology school and worked in the family business in Greenfield. Then she became a stay-at-home mom to Kiela, Grant, Caleb and Luke until they were in school.
Then it was back to work, this time at Colour’z in New Castle, where she has spent a number of years and bought the business. She had contemplated relocating the shop when she heard the instructions to visit downtown.
The couple are thankful for the support they have received from the community and downtown merchants. They say everyone has been encouraging.
In particular, they have special praise for Jeff Ray of Preserve Henry County and for Carrie Barrett of New Castle Downtown who supported their purchase of the downtown building.
The property was first owned by the building’s namesake, Swiss immigrant J.U. Keiser. A professional jeweler, he constructed the building in 1872 during a prosperous period in New Castle history. It was there he sold time pieces of various kinds along with musical instruments.
Later, the building housed Allen’s Young Fashions and Cliff Payne Clothing, Inc.
In a previous Courier-Times article, Jeff Ray described the importance of restoring and repurposing the building. He said, “It is part of the only complete block left in downtown New Castle.”
The Cashes are happy to be part of that repurpose.
“We’re very passionate about bringing our successful business downtown. We excited to bring our customers downtown,” Carmen says.
And, they want to be part of something bigger than their own endeavor.
Explains Scott, “We want to help the other businesses that are downtown. We want to help revitalize downtown.”
They see the importance of community doing business as a community. They recognize a trend toward shopping smaller and inside specialty shops rather than in massive malls.
“We just want to be a part of it,” Scott says of becoming downtown merchants.
Carmen adds that her customers and staff alike are excited about the move.
They have a lot of space, more than one might guess looking from the outside. They anticipate a possible community-venue area and have some additional ideas in mind they are still considering for the space behind the 1323 storefront.
The two say they’ve been on a journey. And it’s still unfolding. “We just want community to happen,” she says.
But there’s more. “We want to glorify Him more than anything,” Carmen says.