Uptown Business Center gives small business owners space to grow

When David and Claudia Vaughn bought the building at 231 E. Marion St. in Shelby, the place was, quite simply, a mess. The only part of the building not in complete disrepair was a Jackson-Hewitt tax office, which has been operated by a family outfit for more than 20 years. 

The other half of the building had been empty for several years. The downstairs areas were flooded with up to four inches of water pooling in the floor at any given time and traces of mold were common. But to them, that was perfect.

“We love to buy something rough and ugly and fix it up,” said Claudia. 

She’s not totally wrong. The couple has successfully renovated rundown homes into desirable rental properties, a feat David attributes to Claudia’s vision and his own technical ability. 

The couple had hoped to pull a similar trick with their business on Marion Street. David’s original plan for building was to renovate and turn it into a pizza restaurant, something he said has long been a dream of his. 

But after some health problems forced them to change course, the couple instead decided to turn their lost opportunity into a fresh one for someone else.

“Starting up a small business is expensive. You need deposits and down payments for your building, for power, for permits for all of this stuff. That’s a lot of money when you are just trying to open up,” said David. 

Instead of opening one large small business, David and Claudia instead set to work turning one large suite into space for multiple businesses. 

“When David started there was nothing in here. Just one wall here and one at the back. As he started putting up walls and putting in the frames around the doors it really started to remind me of the old Marion Mall,” said Claudia. 

It took more than a year of work but eventually, the building, now known as Uptown Business Center started attracting new businesses. As of now Uptown Business Center is home to five businesses, with two more expected to move in sometime this summer.

“I had been working at different salons, and I decided it was time to open my own business,” said Jenny Do, of Jenny Do Nails, one of the five businesses in the center. “This place has been great. Business is good, my customers are amazing, and this is a really good location.”

The most recent business to move in is one founded by David and Claudia. Called Kingdom’s Cup, the business sits front and center in the center and offers coffee, milkshakes, ice cream and other treats. 

The name and mascot, a knight in shining armor, were inspired by the couple’s faith, David said.  

“Nobody seemed to want to move into the front space here, and we were worried that not having someone there might take away from the other businesses. So we opened up,” he said. “It’s kind of worked out. This place is now like a one-stop shop where you can get something tasty to eat and then go get a massage or a makeover done.”

Dustin George can be reached at 704-669-3337 or [email protected].