<< Hudson Window displays are a source of pride for Katie Coulton. A mannequin dressed in a bright yellow dress with a scarf tied around its neck makes those who walk by take a second look.
As the 61-year-old owner of the Grey Colt, the oldest shop along Hudson’s historic Main Street, Coulton knows that the right necklace or handbag can catch the eye of those strolling by her store.
“The success of the business is knowing the customer base,” she says. “We know what they’ve bought in the past. We help people put things together. That’s a lot of why our store has survived.”
The city of Hudson is known for its touches of New England from the iconic clock tower on the village green to its century-old Victorian homes. It’s the kind of place where many of the city’s residents walk downtown to grab lunch or listen to a band play at the gazebo.
So it was important that the 2004 opening of First & Main, a new retail development built on the site of the former Morse Control property behind Main Street, was done right. City leaders required it to fit in with Hudson’s Western Reserve architecture.
Today, First & Main doesn’t feel like a shopping center. It has brick roads, a public square at its center and an artfully hidden parking garage. And while it is home to plenty of local businesses such as Heinen’s supermarket, Luchita’s Mexican restaurant and girls clothier Nicky Nicole, it also has national chains such as Coldwater Creek and Ann Taylor Loft.
Some independent business owners initially questioned the decision to bring more retail to the area when existing places were having a tough time making it. Saywell’s Drug Store, a city mainstay since 1909, closed in 2005.
“It was the last true anchor of Main Street,” Coulton says. “We lost a lot of those people who were coming downtown to wait for their prescriptions or to get things at the soda fountain.”
But those fears have lessened during the past six years. Visitors routinely come from out of town to check out the 30-plus retailers and more than a dozen restaurants that call Hudson’s downtown home.
“The retail part of the town is big enough that people who live here don’t feel like they have to go to cities like Beachwood,” Coulton says. “It’s convenient. They enjoy the small-town feeling.”
Yeah, it’s close to neighboring Legacy Village and Eton Chagrin Boulevard, but this East Side suburb has plenty of shopping and dining destinations of its own. The upscale Beachwood Place is home to Northeast Ohio’s only Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.
The charming and historic 1800s mill town has great views of its famous natural waterfalls along with a bustling town square that makes shopping at its more than 80 locally owned independent shops and restaurants seem like a vacation. Clothing store Sanity and Rick’s Café, known for its ribs and hamburgers, are just some of the hot spots.
High-ends stores such as Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and the Viking Store mix well with popular eateries such as the Cheesecake Factory, Claddagh Irish Pub and California Pizza Kitchen inside the shopping Disneyland of Legacy Village.
The historic Beachcliff Market Square has been revitalized with an updated marquee that now belongs to the Pub while national chains such as Ann Taylor Loft and Jos. A. Bank moved into new retail space next door. The Old Detroit Road area has Adesso Fashion for Men and Amy’s Shoes, along with restaurants Tartine Bistro and Salmon Dave’s.