8th Street Plaza: A Place of Many Changes

by: Lauren Wilson

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Eugene is home to several hole in the wall restaurants, boutiques and shops that sell random little treasures.  The 8th Street Plaza, built in 1955, is one of those locations where a person can find a little bit of everything.  The plaza is a hot spot for foot traffic and appeals to anyone interested in funky apparel, looking for a new hairstyle (real or fake) or anyone who likes to indulge is some great vegan, or non-vegan food.

Ken Fletcher, a resident of the area since 1990, has experienced the many changes that the 8th Street Plaza has seen over the past several years. “I ate at Taco Loco a couple times. I bought CDs at Green Noise and books at Foolscap,” Fletcher says. The resident, who is also a musician, recalls playing at The Art of Glass once, “We accidently broke a piece with our sound waves,” he says.

It is easy to say that the history of the plaza is something that residents hold dear to them. Fletcher says that he has seen several changes to the area, and that he has a warm place in his heart for the plaza. One of the most recent changes within the plaza is The Art of Glass relocating, being replaced by Falling Sky Brewing.

Lanny Jones and his wife Linda have owned the plaza for over 20 years. Also, within the plaza they owned The Art of Glass, a stained glass shop. Lanny says, “We originally purchased the property for Linda’s stained glass business. She fell in love with the space because of all the light and windows for her to display her stained glass.”

Unfortunately, after selling the shop to an employee, the business could no longer afford the large space that they were renting within the plaza. They moved The Art of Glass to a smaller location that works in favor of the current owner.

The empty space in the 8th Street Plaza is currently under construction, preparing for Falling Sky Brewing to move in. The other tenants of the building, residents of the area and even the church across the street are all buzzing about this new addition to the area. Similar to the opinions of others, Jones’ thinks that having a brewery in the area will be wonderful. He says, “They will be a great addition to the entire community and will draw in many new customers to the Center.”

With the excitement of Falling Sky Brewing opening in the 8th Street Plaza, the other shops within the plaza all seem to have positive opinions on the brewery opening. The oldest of these shops is Marco Salon and Wig Gallery. The salon was in the plaza before Jones purchased the building.  Its current owner, Deserie Cox has only owned the salon since August of 2012. “The wig shop has been open for 30 years and the salon was added on within the past 5 years,” she says. Cox is thrilled to be the current owner. As far as Falling Sky moving in next door, Cox says she isn’t really worried about it.  However, her employees hope that it will bring in a nicer crowd than the area is used too.

Along with the wig shop, there are also two unique boutiques. Redoux Parlor and Sweet Skins both sell their own style of clothing. Redoux Parlor, previously Infinity Mercantile, has been open for four years.  It is a dark, yet fascinating little place filled with clothing that is designed by locals. The shop also allows students who are studying apparel design to intern for them.

Sierra Edwards, an intern at the shop, says, “There is a studio in the back and everyone who works here gets to sew in the studio and work up front in exchange.” Edwards seemed excited about the brewery moving in next door.  She says that The Art of Glass didn’t bring in a big crowd, but with Falling Sky, she hopes that there will be a little more foot traffic in the area.

Right next-door is another clothing shop, Sweet Skins, which has been open for around nine years. The owner, Mira Fannin started selling her handmade, organic clothing at the Saturday Market and now is the owner of an incredibly successful business. One employee, Paula Georgeton, had a lot to say about Falling Sky moving in. She says that she thinks it is going to make this center great, and that The Art of Glass didn’t bring in a lot of people.

Georgeton also voiced her opinion about the parking situation, “Parking is already horrific, and it is going to be really bad.”  She says that she is going to ride her bike to work more often, or even try to find street parking and walk to the shop in hopes to free up a spot in the lot. Parking seems to be the issue at hand.

Jason Carriere, an owner and brewer for Falling Sky Brewing, seems extremely positive about opening another location for their brewery. Their current brewery has been open for nearly a year and has been very successful. They plan on having the second location open by June of 2013. Carriere says that he is extremely excited about the location. “The area has it’s own buzz about it, so to be able to tap into that and make it bigger, I think it could be a little pod that people flock too,” he says.

Carriere says that they have run into a few problems, but nothing so terrible that it could keep them from opening. One of the biggest has been the parking situation. This problem seems to worry not only the owners of the brewery, but also other tenants of the plaza. On a normal business day, the parking lot within the plaza is always completely full.  It seems almost impossible to find a place to park.  Many of the shop owners worry that with the amount of people the brewery will draw in, that parking will become an even bigger problem than it already is.

Carriere says that this isn’t something that is going to hold them back from opening and that they are working on alternatives. The owners of Falling Sky approached the First Evangelical United Brethren Church about renting some parking spots from their lot. However, the church turned them down.  Carriere says, “We tried to set up an arrangement with them, but it didn’t work out. The pastor of the congregation seemed super into it but the ‘old guard’ of the church was a little more hesitant.”

Mitch Lee, the pastor at the church has a positive attitude when it comes to Falling Sky Brewing moving in next door. He says, “I think it is great. If we can support a local business and see things change in a positive direction, it would be great.  I’m really excited to have them here.” Nonetheless he believes that it isn’t the right time to provide parking for them. Lee says, “We told them no, but I feel like there is hope for the future.”

After being shut down by the church, Falling Sky Brewing continued their search and is now in the midst of working out a deal with Hollywood Treasures and Taco Loco.  Carriere says, “Generally, I think what needs to happen, to be honest, is that all the other tenants need to have their employees stop parking in that parking lot.”

The two current restaurants within the plaza, El Jarro Azul and Laughing Planet, don’t seem too intimidated by Falling Sky Brewing moving in. They don’t even seem too worried about the parking.  El Jarro Azul, a Mexican/Salvadorian restaurant, is a family owned business that has been open for 13 years.  The owner, Edith Rivera, says that her customers are loyal and that they have a good happy hour, so there is no need to worry about competition.

The employees at Laughing Planet all have positive attitudes about the brewery moving in as well.  In between making smoothies, Sarah Barnes says, “We’re all stoked! It will probably take some of the lunch rush off of us.”  Laughing Planet has been open for around ten years and is notorious for their delicious vegan and vegetarian dishes.  Similar to El Jarro Azul, the employees think that they have a fairly loyal crowd of customers, so competition isn’t going to be an issue.  On the bright side, they are also all looking forward to getting beers after a day at work!

With The Art of Glass moving out, and Falling Sky Brewing taking its spot, the plaza is about to see an entirely new change coming summer of 2013. Even though parking may seem like an issue to the other tenets within the plaza, the pub also has a lot of positive things to contribute to the area.  All in all, exciting changes are taking place within the 8th Street Plaza. The plaza will not only be a sweet spot for people to have lunch and do a little shopping during the day, but it will also come to life after hours, drawing people in from all around to share drinks, food and make even more memories within the plaza.

A Little Deeper Into The Art Of Glass- sidebar #1

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For a stained glass shop, business can be hard to find.  After Linda Jones and her husband Lanny bought The 8th Street Plaza, Linda opened up The Art Of Glass.  She loved the building they had available for the shop.  There were windows that allowed enough light into the shop to allow her stained glass to shine beautifully.

However, The Art of Glass has recently been forced to close its doors at the 8th Street Plaza and move to a smaller location. In 2006, Jones’ wife ended up selling The Art of Glass to an employee, Noni Lundy.

Unfortunately, this was after the economy had declined, and business for the stained glass shop had taken a turn for the worst.  “They were wanting to revitalize the plaza and in doing so our rent would of gone up. We knew our business couldn’t afford that.  After 8 months of looking, we found the place and decided to move,” says Lundy.

With the changes being made to the plaza, the business could no longer afford the large space that they were renting within the plaza. They moved The Art of Glass to a smaller location on Tyinn street. This new location works in favor of the current owner.  Jones says, “We still have a great relationship and Linda teaches classes for them and helps out when needed.”

The Other Places in the 8th Street Plaza- side bar #2

Even though The Art of Glass and Falling Sky Brewing are the hot topic of the 8th Street Plaza right now, there are a handful of other credible shops in the plaza.  Below are links to the other shops:

Laughing Planet

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El Jarro Azul

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Marco Salon and Wig Gallery:

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Redoux Parlour:

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Sweet Skins:

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