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Coulterville business climate perks up

    After several slow years, the small community of Coulterville in northern Mariposa County is in the midst of a renaissance, with at least nine businesses either opening in the past few months or about to open.
    “I think it all started with our John Muir Festival in the park last year,” said Joy Kitchel, office manager of the Coulterville Visitor Center.
    She said several people were talking at that event about how they needed more local businesses, and now it’s happening.
    Deborah Foreman and her daughter, Magnum Godfrey, opened Coulterville General Store at 5006 Main St. about two weeks ago.
    “All of a sudden, lots of people are opening businesses,” Foreman said. “It’s mostly people who own their buildings and can afford to survive the winter when business is slow.”
        Godfrey and her husband, Scott, built the building eight years ago with an apartment upstairs and a real estate office downstairs. Then the economy went south, and they weren’t selling real estate.
    “One day my daughter and I decided we should open a grocery store and keep the prices down so locals can enjoy it throughout the year,” Foreman said.
    Inside the store is another business, KJ’s Smoke Shop, where owner Kevin Keane features a variety of tobacco products.
    Teresa Kelley and Jerry Brown are co-owners of the century-old Johnny Haigh Saloon building next door to the Hotel Jeffery at 5009-B Main St.
    They had an antique store in the building for five years, then decided there was an unmet market for a saloon after the closing of the Hotel Jeffery. They decided to bring the Johnny Haigh back to life.
    Brown completely rebuilt the saloon, and they made it home-base for the Coulterville Claim Jumpers Old West re-enactors, who serve hot dogs and Polish sausages from a food cart in front of the saloon Saturdays and put on mock old-time gunfights.
    The saloon offers beer, wine, soft drinks, hot drinks such as coffee and hot chocolate, and lots of bar food, including pizza, buffalo wings, poppers and peanuts. It’s the kind of place where people are welcome to throw their peanut shells on the floor.
    The historic Jeffery Hotel next door is expected to reopen in the next few weeks with new owners, who are in the midst of an extensive clean-up and renovation project.
    Louis Bickford, proprietor of the Trading Post at 5011 Main St., has a variety of jewelry, gold nuggets, western hats, American Indian gift items and other gifts.
    Speedy Repair is a new auto mechanic shop at 5011 Broadway in what is often referred to as the old Frosty building. Owner and chief mechanic Richie Ventura said it is a full-service shop except for smog testing. He plans to eventually add a reupholstery shop.
    Nina Mimnaugh, owner of Sierra Flowers, used to operate out of her home. She now has a flower and plant shop at 5012 Main St.
    In addition to flowers for weddings and other special events, the store features a variety of cut flowers, colorful bouquets and indoor potted plants. She plans to add outdoor plants soon.
    The flower shop shares a building with the newly relocated Coulterville Visitor Center, 5010 Main St., which is now open seven days a week for the summer season.
    Tucked in the same storefront is Mary Lou’s Cup of Brew. Proprietor Malynda Morey hopes to open by the end of June. In addition to premium coffees, she will feature ice cream, cold slush-type drinks and scones, cupcakes and pastry treats by A Catered Affair, based in Lake Don Pedro.
    The mix of old and new includes places to eat, places to stay and resources such as the Northern Mariposa County History Center.

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