If the key to a successful city is a booming downtown, then Visalia is in pretty good shape.
Don Sharp, President of Downtown Visalians says, "We have no vacancies on Main Street."
Sharp says this is the first time in 35 years downtown retail buildings have been at full capacity.
"That's just amazing in these tough times, so we're darn proud of it...our buttons are busting," says Sharp.
In the past year, six downtown stores have been built or renovated. 19 new businesses have moved in.
Stacey Marshall is downtown Visalia's newest business owner. Her boutique filled the last empty space.
Marshall says, "I've always had my eye on downtown because I do believe it's always been solid and strong here."
Marshall moved in from Hanford, after her store there was destroyed in a fire.
"We're gonna triple, quadruple what we were doing in Hanford. There's so much more foot traffic here, it's great," says Marshall.
Visalia's secret is to keep the area attractive.
David Duda, Visalia Resident, says, "There's certainly a lot of small business, lots of variety. You don't have the big box stores and you have more of a pedestrian friendly atmosphere downtown, you can shop and eat and do just about anything downtown."
This success didn't happen overnight. The Downtown Visalians Organization has worked with the city for more than 60 years.
Sharpe says, "We've tried to maintain concentric growth having the downtown of Visalia as the center growth."
The Property Owner's Association also pumps more than $200,000 a year into downtown. The money is used to remove graffiti and to provide 24 hour security.
Sharp says, "It establishes a positive feeling about the city whether you're a resident or visitor."
Even though retail space in downtown is full, officials still welcome new business. Anyone interested will be placed on a waiting list. There are still a few second story office spaces in downtown still vacant.
An advocate for Fresno's downtown says roughly 35% of the Fulton Mall is vacant for retail. Historic buildings are 71% vacant.
Merced City Officials tell us their downtown is about 30% vacant for retail.