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Stores fleeing Mitchell's downtown

Dakota Scents, visible here at 100 W. Fifth Ave. in downtown Mitchell, and Dakota Candy Company, also visible here at 417 N. Main St., have each announced plans to move to a new retail center being built near East Spruce Street, directly north of Menards. Dakota Candy Company is also changing its name to Sweet Fix Candy & Pop. (Chris Mueller/The Daily Republic)

Two neighboring businesses are leaving downtown Mitchell for new locations south of Interstate 90.

Dakota Scents, currently at 100 W. Fifth Ave., near Main Street, and Dakota Candy Company, currently at 417 N. Main St., have each announced plans to move to a new retail center being built near East Spruce Street, directly north of Menards.

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Kim Vilhauer, owner of Dakota Scents, said Tuesday in an interview with The Daily Republic that the new location will give her business greater visibility and her customers easier access, additional parking and a greater variety of stores nearby.

"People like the one-stop shopping when they go out there," Vilhauer said. "That end of town is building up. That is going to be the new downtown."

Dakota Scents will be able to add a line of boutique clothing and Black Hills gold jewelry to its offerings after the move, Vilhauer said. The new space, while not much larger than Dakota Scents' current space, is much more open, she said.

Dakota Scents, which sells candles, lotions and various other items, currently employs four people, but that will likely double as a result of the move, Vilhauer said.

Dakota Candy Company, which is changing its name to Sweet Fix Candy & Pop, will also be able to offer a larger inventory at the new location, according to a post on the business' Facebook page. Justin Clark, owner of Dakota Candy Company, did not immediately return calls for comment on Tuesday.

Hibbett Sporting Goods, a national sporting goods store, and rue21, a national clothing store, are two other businesses that will move into the new retail center, which will eventually hold five businesses, according to Chad Van Buskirk, a project developer with Van Buskirk Companies in Sioux Falls. The name of the fifth business moving into the building has not yet been released.

The new businesses are the latest development in what has been an ongoing commercial building boom in southern Mitchell in recent years. What was once mostly agricultural land to the south of I-90 is now home to businesses that bring millions of dollars to the city's economy every year, and it's all happened in a span of 15 years.

According to statistics acquired last March by The Daily Republic from the South Dakota Department of Revenue, businesses south of I-90 in Mitchell -- excluding businesses west of South Rowley Street, with the exception of AKG -- produced about $166 million in taxable sales in 2012. That was 45 percent of the city's total retail trade and 31 percent of the city's total taxable sales in 2012, from which the city collected 31 percent of its sales tax revenue -- all from an area where there was no development 15 years ago.

Vilhauer said she believes competition from businesses south of I-90 will continue to impact downtown businesses.

"That's why if I was going to make the move, I needed to do it now," she said.

Molly Goldsmith, executive director of Mitchell Main Street & Beyond, a downtown advocacy group, said downtown is and will remain "a great incubator for new businesses."

Goldsmith said she is optimistic the loss of two established downtown businesses will give new businesses the opportunity to open downtown, which she described as a "prime retail location."

Goldsmith acknowledged the competition downtown businesses face from those opening south of I-90, but said that isn't necessarily bad.

"Competition is always a good thing," she said.

In 2013, downtown businesses had nearly $38.8 million in taxable sales, up from $28.1 million in 2012, nearly a 38 percent increase, according to statistics acquired by The Daily Republic from Mitchell Main Street & Beyond, which requested the statistics from the state Department of Revenue.

"These numbers are a very positive indicator that downtown is truly being revitalized and contributing to the community," Goldsmith said.