DILLON, S.C. (WBTW) — Local leaders said the city of Dillon’s efforts to bring in new businesses and drive foot traffic downtown are starting to pay off.

Between community events and new renovations, downtown business owners said the area looks different now than it did even as recently as a few months ago.

Lisa Moody, development coordinator for the city, said she took the job in September 2021 and had her work cut out for her.

“I was here when it used to be thriving, when we all used to shop downtown, and I have watched the slow decay over 36 years,” she said.

She watched anchor stores leave Main Street and buildings go vacant, but now, businesses are returning.

“In the last few months, all of a sudden, things have started to spin in a direction of revitalization,” Moody said.

Businesses like a juice shop and several beauty salons have found their homes on Main Street over the last few years.

Kristi Watson, who opened the salon Hall of Queens in April, said she feels like she watched Dillon move out of the Stone Age in 2022.

“We are in a new age now and I am loving it,” Watson said between hair treatments and facial scrubs. “I love the fact that Dillon is growing and more open to diversity. It’s becoming very authentic.”

Moody said residents have also been buying up old properties in the hopes of renovating them and turning them into things like apartments and event venues.

“It’s a really exciting time to find myself here in Dillon,” Moody said.

She partnered with Johnnie Leuhrs, president of the Dillon County Chamber of Commerce, to organize farmers markets, live concerts and food truck rodeos, all of which bring more potential customers to those new businesses.

“Everybody has a feeling of ‘let’s work together,'” Leuhrs said. “The young, the old, different races, it doesn’t matter — we all have a goal and that is to see Dillon prosper.”

Moody said several projects are underway to keep the momentum, including the construction of a pavilion to house community events, a streetscaping overhaul to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and five murals.

She said in spite of all the progress, downtown Dillon is still lacking in one area — restaurants.

“We just want a restaurant and a bar or a brewery! I want a tablecloth table and to sit there with my husband and enjoy dinner, see my friends when they come and go,” Moody said. “And it will happen soon.”