St. Louis has always been big on small-town appeal. Many of its suburbs have thriving, well-supported business districts. So what is it about these particular communities that makes them so successful? We turned to civic leaders for some answers. 

Washington Avenue

    “The streetscape, the quality of the buildings and the area’s intimate character combine to make Washington Avenue an ideal place for locally owned businesses,” says Jim Cloar, president of Downtown St. Louis Partnership. “Downtown has come a long way in the last 10 years, and Washington Avenue has become the face of downtown, a very good face to have!”

Central West End

    “Our business owners are a very close-knit community and tend to be very involved in the neighborhood,” says Patricia Roland-Hamilton, president of the Central West End Association.


“There’s such a sense of community in Clayton. People take pride in their neighborhoods and support local businesses, says Mayor Linda Goldstein. “And businesses have a ‘captive audience’ in close proximity to their shops and-establishments.”

The Hill

“The Hill remains safe and very connected,” says Joseph DeGregorio, Guided Tours of The Hill owner. “The residents, now in their third, fourth and fifth generations, are extremely friendly, thanks to the Italian psyche of ‘la dolce vita.’”


    “As a business owner since 1982, I can vouch for the very successful and active business community in Kirkwood,” says Mayor Art McDonnell. “The residents are very supportive.”

University City

“The Delmar Loop came back because of unique, owner-operated businesses that thought long-term,” says Joe Edwards, owner of several Loop businesses. “There’s also uniqueness in its diversity, not just racially, but also economically, the way America should be.” 

Webster Groves

    “Webster has a tradition of supporting local businesses; people have a strong sense of community,” says Mayor Gerry Welch. “They’re proud to live here and they’re very loyal. In this era of big-box stores, people are looking for something unique, and that’s what you have in Webster.”