The piles of debris are gone from the curb sides along Range Avenue in Denham Springs' Antique Village.

Unfortunately, images of those piles and reports of record flooding and closed business are keeping many shoppers from the spending their money at shops in an area known for antiques and gift items.

Donna Jennings, director of the city's Main Street program, said she's on a mission to let area residents know 70 percent of the shops in the historic district are open for business.

Jennings stood on North Range Avenue during a recent visit and pointed to the shops open for business. 

"The Rusty Rooster, open; Bee's Knees open and the Antique Theatre will open soon," Jennings said. "Now all we need are shoppers."

Jennings said that a majority of the businesses didn't flood, but shoppers are scarce because many area residents and shop owners are busy repairing their homes damaged in the flood.

As Jennings walked down the avenue talking about the plight of the businesses after the flood, she knocked on the door of Theatre Antiques.

Al Bye and Elvin Watts were busy inside preparing for a November reopening.

Bye pointed to a pile of rusting tools sitting inside his Theatre Antiques business and sighed.

The pile, Bye said, represents one more obstacle in the reopening of his Range Avenue business, which got between four and seven feet of water in the August flood.

Bye, who also is president of the Denham Springs Merchant Association, and Watts have been busy since the flood water receded painting walls, cleaning floors and sorting through the antiques they salvaged from the flooded store.

During the cleanup, they found an old popcorn box tucked away inside a wall. They think it's from the 1940s. The box has been framed and will be on display when they open. The building was once home to a movie theater.

Both men are optimistic their business will open next month, just in time for holiday shopping.

The Antique Village is in the city's Main Street area. Denham Springs joined the Louisiana Main Street program in 1995. The program, a part of Main Street America, is designed to stress downtown revitalization and promote economic development in traditional commercial areas.

The Antique Village includes more than a dozen shops and businesses along Range Avenue and Hummell Street.

The annual Fall Festival held each year in the downtown area was canceled but Jennings is optimistic about the spring event.

She also is working on plans for the city's Christmas in the Village, a monthlong promotion to encourage shopping the the area.

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