Inside Downtown Goshen’s Emerging Renaissance

Pottinger-Peterson share the secret recipe for success

 

David Pottinger and Faye Peterson – The Good of Goshen

 

 

 

Walking along Main Street in downtown Goshen, you will notice the beautifully restored century-old buildings, attractive outdoor seating, and a variety of shops bubbling with activity.

Downtown Goshen has not always looked like this, but one family’s love for antiques and restoration put the downtown on the road to a renaissance.

“Faye and I both came out of a lifelong interest in historic things,” said David Pottinger. “We both are collectors and dealers of antiques.”

In the mid-1980s, Dave and his wife, Faye Peterson Pottinger, restored South Side Soda Shop, a diner with a 1950s feel located at 1122 S. Main St. Since then, Dave and Faye, and more recently, along with Faye’s daughter and son-in-law Maija and Jeremy Stutsman, have restored dozens of downtown buildings.

That list includes multiple blocks of shops and restaurants, the Goshen Farmer’s Market and the several artists’ guilds by the farmer’s market. Along with buildings, the family has also established outdoor eating spaces, planters and a walk-only alley that features local artwork.

Plenty of Goshen residents and leaders credit the Pottingers with helping launch the downtown into a vibrant and creative destination. Dave and Faye, though, are quick to note that their part is not more significant than the work of others that contributed to making Goshen what it is.

“We had the time,” Dave said. “We had the interest … I think just by happenstance we came in at a time of a unique opportunity. The timing was right.”

Faye agrees.

“I always talk about Goshen being such fertile ground,” she said. The creative and motivated graduates from Goshen College remaining in the area, the city’s low cost of living and the local Mennonite population that values sustainability and supporting the community all contributed to creating that ‘fertile ground,’” she explained. “It all kind of worked together.”

The family had befriended people interested in opening shops and small businesses, but who lacked space. The Pottingers were buying and renovating buildings they wanted to fill with vibrant, dependable businesses.

Anyone who has some capital and the interest can restore a building, Dave said. “The people who should really be credited in my opinion are the people who put the work in every day.”

“Neither one of us has any feeling of ownership,” he said. “It’s not about us.”

As the Pottingers began restoring and rejuvenating buildings, including several that were otherwise going to be torn down, they began partnering with small business owners, young entrepreneurs and artists. They opened restaurants, clothing boutiques, hair salons, and art shops. Jeremy and Maija have also undertaken multiple projects on their own, opening a fitness boutique, massage studios, and day spa right downtown.

“It was one step at a time,” Faye said. “It was incremental.”

“If you really focus on your community and its interests,” Dave added, “the outside world will find you.”

“We weren’t interested in labels, in marketing,” Faye continued. “We were interested in the community, keeping people here doing things that are interesting … I think when you do good things, good things happen.”

“We had the time, we had the interest … I think just by happenstance we came in at a time of a unique opportunity. The timing was right.”

“We weren’t interested in labels, in marketing, we were interested in the community, keeping people here doing things that are interesting.”

David Pottinger and Faye Peterson • The Good of Goshen

“Neither one of us has any feeling of ownership. It’s not about us.”

 

 

Good of Goshen Photography • Lynne Zehr
Good of Goshen Editor • Marlys Weaver-Stoesz

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