Keeping history in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket

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Photos and story by Meghin Williams, NewsNetNebraska

The Pinnacle Bank Arena and new businesses surrounding it have some Haymarket shop owners wondering if it will be “out with the old and in with the new” for their businesses.

“We love it here, I can’t imagine our shop being anywhere but here,” said Diane Cunningham. Diane and Jeff Cunningham own Burlington Antiques. They say the Haymarket’s atmosphere has noticeably changed in the 18 years they’ve owned the shop. 

The biggest change they said came with the new $184 million Pinnacle Bank Arena, and the $191 million worth of redevelopment of the surrounding West Haymarket district.

“We are cautiously optimistic,” Dianne Cunningham said.

The Cunningham’s are wary that the area’s new development could raise the cost of their building lease, or that a faltering economy could hurt their shop’s profits. They’ve seen it happen before.

“There were tons of antique shops down here, then the mid 2000’s came, the economy was terrible and more and more of them started closing,” Cunningham said. The redevelopment has created a trendy urban district which has Cunningham’s wondering how they can attract the new, younger demographic.

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From Nebraska Gift Shop owner Connie Mahaney has owned her business for 25 years. She can attest to the small business struggles sometimes encountered in the Haymarket.

“A lot of businesses have come and gone because it is hard to survive down here, now there is a lot of new businesses and it’s always been a struggle,” said Mahaney.

What has kept the Cunningham and Mahaney’s businesses going?

Mahaney sticks to what she knows; Gift baskets during Christmas. Nebraska souvenirs, and more specialized Lincoln, Neb., items.

Denise Walter is a customer of Burlington Antiques and the From Nebraska Gift Shop.

“I would hate to see either shop go, I mean its nice to have historic places in the historic Haymarket,” said 24 year Lincoln resident, Walter.

The Cunningham’s have a different recipe for their businesses success. With the urban demographic taking off they’re focusing on bringing in more antique jewelry that appeals to younger customers.

Owner Connie Mahaney helps a family in the From Nebraska Gift Shop.

Owner Connie Mahaney helps a family in the From Nebraska Gift Shop.

Both shops are seeing more business come through their doors, but also see possible lease increases in the near future.“My landlord was very nice and backed off while the construction was going on,” Mahaney said. “But now that construction is done I’m sure it (the lease) is going to go up and I don’t think we are ready for that.”

Mahaney and The Cunningham’s would like to see the opening of a new convention center in or near the Haymarket. They think it would bring more business and make it easier to pay higher leases. 

Pinnacle Bank Arena  http://sfy.co/rExW #storify

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