North Texas Daily

Residents, business owners reflect on city’s notoriety

Residents, business owners reflect on city’s notoriety

Residents, business owners reflect on city’s notoriety
February 26
23:16 2014

Trent Johnson // Features Editor

While Denton, Texas is usually referred to as a college town or the little brother, or sister, to the neighboring Dallas, the town known as “little D” has recently carved out a niche for itself, receiving media recognition along the way.

In the past few years, Denton has continually found itself on numerous “Best Small Town” lists from publications like Business Insider, USA Today and various others because of its cultural diversity, booming business and unusual attractions on the Square.

In January, Denton was awarded even more praise as the Huffington Post featured the Square as one of the best main streets in America, plus the town itself was featured as a destination of interest for retirees by USA Today.

Even though she had never visited, Alexis Loyd, author of the USA Today article, said she selected Denton for her series because of the blend of different kinds of people and what the community creates.

“In Denton the school brings together a community of writers and readers,” Alexis Loyd said. “Denton [also] has Lewisville Lake for fishing and boating, as well as being in North Texas horse country.”

Local shop owners on the Square are not the least bit surprised by the amount of adoration the town receives.

“I like the small town feel, but it’s completely convenient because you can always get what you need any time of the day,” Mad World Records owner Mark Burke said. “I’ve lived a lot of places and this is by far the easiest place to live.“

Owning a record store on the Square, Burke said he used to run the business in Carrolton, Texas but struggled. He eventually relocated to where he attended UNT—Denton.

During the process, Burke noticed an opening on the Square about three years ago, an occurrence he describes as pure luck.

“We just happened to see this spot and we got really lucky,” Burke said. “If the Square wasn’t popular, my store probably wouldn’t stay open. All the people that are on the square help stores like this stay open.”

For the shop owner, a large part of the Denton appeal is the abundance of college students from UNT and TWU, who help keep the town fresh and less sad, he said.

“[College students] just add to the general youth to the town, I mean this town forever stays young because you have a new crop of students coming in every four years,” Burke said. “A lot of them don’t leave because of the music school and it’s a music town.”

Burke also noted how college students help the local economy, which in turn helps the city gain accolades because quirky businesses remain open.

“It’s huge. It’s obvious, I mean anyone that lives here notices that in May all the restaurants are empty and you think ‘aw cool,’” Burke said. “But at the end of summer when you’re ready for people to come back, they come back and you’re happy to see them again.”

Burke is especially happy with the recognition received for the Square and said that Denton’s “main street” helps people gain a since of nostalgia.

“It’s a way to remind people of their youth,” Burke said. “That’s what the whole square is about, I mean even places like the candy store have so much stuff that I hadn’t seen since I was a kid.”

Atomic Candy owner Tim Loyd agrees with Burke’s sentiments about the Square, adding that it plays the role of Denton’s most frequently visited destination.

“Most people come down here and hang around the court house and all of the shops and bars,” Tim Loyd said. “There’s just a lot of community down here.”

Feature photo: The Denton Courthouse Museum located in the center of the Square. Photo by Trent Johnson / Features Editor

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