ROCKTON, Ill. (WTVO) — Over the years, downtown Rockton has seen a lot of empty storefronts as businesses come and go. During the pandemic, the area has actually seen an influx of new businesses wanting to stay for the long run.
“Over the last year, even through the pandemic, we’ve had some great places open up,” said Erica Charron, the owner of Local Blessings.
Downtown Rockton has seen an uptick in businesses over the last year. Rockton Planning and Development Administrator Tricia Diduch says five new businesses have already opened just this past year.
“This is our form of economic development is providing a place that people want to be they want to spend their time and spend the little extra money that they have,” Diduch said. “It might be that the pandemic has pushed people over the edge like if it’s not now it’s never and it’s time to make dreams come true.”
One of those new businesses is Local Blessings. The owner says that despite her initial fears, she was able to make it work.
“At first, I was terrified that the pandemic was hitting and I had just bought this building and it ended up being the best decision ever because we have a garage that is all enclosed that we can produce these boards and send them and everything and room to spread out,” Charron said.
Charron is a Rockton native and says she was determined to do business in her hometown.
“I named it Local Blessings for a couple of reasons. ‘Local’ because I’m local. I grew up in Rockton and I love everything about Rockton. We carry 20 local vendors’ products and blessings because when I started this business, I was determined to change my life,” explained Charron.
She says she’s noticed the downtown changes.
“There were several open storefronts and I think now there might now be one and it’s just been so great to have all these new places come in,” said Charron. “It makes my heart so happy to see Rockton grow and that we have so much to offer people as a destination.”
Diduch says there are more plans for businesses to open up this year, one of which is Rockton Garden Works–scheduled to open in April.