One of downtown's most visible retailers is going through some big changes this week, in every sense of the word.
The Student Body, a specialty clothing, embroidery and screen printing business located for 21 years at 202 E. Third Street, has left the courthouse square for much roomier quarters a few blocks to the west on Fourth Street.
Owners Jim and Amy Goecken founded the Student Body in 1992 shortly after graduating from Northwest Missouri State University. Jim grew up in a small town in Iowa and Amy is a native of Omaha, Neb.
Like more than a few Bearcat couples, they decided Maryville was too nice a town to leave after completing their degrees and decided to put down roots.
Now those roots have blossomed into a thriving enterprise that has simply outgrown the cramped brick storefront which housed the business for the past two decades.
Jim Goecken said the new store, which has served variously over the years as a gas station, coffee shop and Baskin Robbins ice cream franchise, offers 4,500 square feet of retail floor space, compared to 2,500 square feet at the old location. The embroidery and screen printing production areas will expand significantly as well.
The couple spent most of Wednesday evening assembling fixtures and hauling merchandise down the hill to the Fourth Street location and were to begin retail sales there today. For the time being, the production part of the business will remain on the square until the remodel is complete.
Goecken said the couple had been considering a move for some time, and at first wondered if the best option would be to lease space somewhere along the South Main corridor, which has replaced the square as Maryville's primary retail district.
But after thinking it through, he said, staying close to downtown emerged as the best choice. For one thing, a big chunk of the Student Body's business comes from students and staff at Northwest Missouri State University, which is within easy walking distance of the new location.
Also, downtown has been going through a bit of a revival in recent years, having attracted two new restaurants along with several retail start-ups.
"It's nice to see other businesses investing in this area and not just moving south," Goecken said.
In addition, a proposed new streetscape comprising new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping is in the works for West Fourth Street, and the Student Body is poised to become an anchor location along a corridor that stylistically links downtown with the campus.
This kind of public/private synergy has been a longtime goal for both the Greater Maryville Chamber of Commerce and Nodaway County Economic Development, the latter agency having helped the Goeckens secure a $20,000 low-interest loan for storefront improvements and new signage.
Page 2 of 2 - Jim Goecken said such programs, which have already benefitted other businesses on or near the square, constitute a big plus.
"I think it makes businesses want to come down here," he said.
As for his store's specific location, Goecken said the extra room, added parking and proximity to Northwest should prove to be "a must" for a business that, depending on the season, sells between 8,000 and 10,000 shirts a month, along with all manner of trademarked sports clothing, trophies and specialty items.
"We're expecting big things from this location," he said.