One of the mainstays in the business world of Sunnyside has been the downtown building that currently houses The Mini Mall, located at 214 Sixth Street.
Thursday night, Mini Mall owners Bill and Anne Flower opened up their establishment to the community for an after-hours social organized by the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce.
The Flowers didn't conduct any grand tour of their historic downtown Mini Mall, but rather they let the surroundings in the building do the talking.
The event was a true social occasion, as the Flowers provided an evening of refreshments and food for those who took part in the event.
The Mini Mall building has been in the Flower family for many years, as Bill's father, Camillus, originally owned the site.
Flower said his family has a long history at the Mini Mall's current location. In the late 1930s and during World War II, the building was used as a warehouse to store potatoes.
After the war, the building was turned into what many remember it for, a bowling alley. The bowling alley stayed a nine-lane facility until a 10th and final lane was added in 1960.
In the late 1970s, the building moved from being a recreation facility to what it currently is today, a shopping mall, said Flower.
The very first business in the Mini Mall is still there today, the Professional Beauty School. The Extra Special Pantry, which Anne Flower operated, was another popular establishment. Another notable business was the Inkwell and Paper Company. The Hopfengarten Gallery was also one of the first businesses to grace the walls within the Mini Mall.
These days, the Mini Mall still serves as home to the Professional Beauty School; Margarita's Design, a seamstress and fashion designer; Jasmine Thai Cuisine, a restaurant specializing in Thai food; Melange, a gift store; and Hopfengarten Gallery, a business that showcases original art and signature piece items.
The Mini Mall has also served as home to the Festival of Trees event every holiday season, art shows and bridal shows.
The variety of stores over the years has been one of the reasons why the Mini Mall has been such a vital piece of the downtown business trade, said Flower.
"We have had quality stores," he added. "We just have a great clientele. We have just had a lot of fun keeping it as a mini mall."
Flower said when he is looking for stores to fill the mini mall, he tries to find businesses that will be unique to the area.
The Flowers have been members of the chamber of commerce since its inception, said Flowers. Being involved with such organizations as the chamber, the Sunnyside Economic Development Association and the Port of Sunnyside are important in promoting the growth of a business, said Flower.
Flower also added that by supporting the chamber and in effect other businesses it has helped him in the long run.
"The merchants in Sunnyside have always welcomed competition," said Flower. "Because of them (competitors) they have been better merchants."