Job: Owner of Bettieville in Rossville, Georgia
Volunteer role: Helped organize music for Sunset on the Pond Concert Series for the Rossville Downtown Development Authority
Could Rossville, Georgia, be poised for a comeback?
Andie Sellers thinks so.
"Nobody ever wanted to drive through St. Elmo — now look at it," she says. "That's where Rossville can go."
Sellers is the 30-something owner of "Bettieville," a rockabilly-themed boutique named for the 1950s pinup model Bettie Page. The store at 804 Chickamauga Avenue — Rossville's main drag — opened almost two years ago and sells used clothing, jewelry, furniture and knick-knacks.
She pays more than lip service to Rossville's potential renaissance. Sellers joined the city's downtown development authority board and volunteered this past summer to find the musical acts for the Sunset on the Pond Concert Series held at the downtown duck pond behind the former Bi-Lo supermarket, now Food City.
"I was like, 'I'm on it,'" she said of rounding up such acts as the Belaires '60s show band and bluesman Husky Burnette. "I got a lot of them [to perform] free."
In its 1960s heyday, shoppers flocked to downtown and Rossville's Peerless Woolen Mill was one of biggest employers in the Chattanooga area with more than 3,000 employees.
But Rossville's had it rough for years. The mill has long been closed, other large employers are only memories and downtown is shadow of its former self.
Where some might see decline, Sellers sees opportunity.
"It has great potential," she said. "It is really, really affordable."
Rossville's got a compact downtown with a supermarket, sidewalks and a historic Post Office. It's the southern gateway to Chattanooga, and Chickamauga Avenue (also known as Rossville Boulevard and LaFayette Road) brings lots of traffic past store fronts.
"Business has been really good," says Sellers, who grew up in Flintstone, Georgia, and attended Ridgeland High School. "I get a lot of new customers that just drive by, and they're like, 'Whoa.'"
She recently checked the price of rent around downtown and found retail space could be had for $300 to $400 a month.
Rossville Mayor Teddy Harris agrees with Sellers, and is rooting for her.
"I'm hoping she's doing well," Harris says. "The opportunities are there. It's definitely a place with opportunities, if investors want to put their money here."