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Published:September 22nd, 2006 06:40 EST
Mileground has Something for Everyone

Mileground has Something for Everyone

By Stacey Smith

The Exotic Jungle is a thriving business on Mileground Road, which sells pets and pet equipment. Inside the store, there are countless amphibians, reptiles, fish, and other small pets that can be petted, held and bought by customers, " said Cori Golden, 17, an employee. 

A 22-foot python is located in the back of the store for any one interested in looking but not touching. "

The Exotic Jungle has been in business for over 20 years, according to their manager, Sarah Nordeck, and she believes competing pet stores will never be a problem because of The Exotic Jungle`s great customer service.

While some stores on the Mileground, like The Exotic Jungle are old and have managed to stay in business for many years, there are also some new businesses on the Mileground trying to find their niche in the competition.

SunSations Tanning, located on the lower level of Mileground Plaza, is one of these new businesses. SunSations is a privately owned chain that started in Virginia Beach, Virginia and is the only one of its kind in West Virginia, said Michelle Bucklew, owner.

Bucklew said the tanning salon, which features massages, was just opened this December and so far the business has been profitable.
When first opened about 95 % of the customers were students, however, Bucklew said that she has turned it around to 85% students and 15% locals.  She also said she is trying to attract professors and commuters who drive through the Mileground after work. 

Bucklew believes that traffic on the Mileground is terrible but like Bronson at the Back Bay, she said it helps her business.

Between 1p.m. and 6p.m., traffic on the Mileground is bumper to bumper, said Bucklew.  She further said that people come in to tan because they see her sign while they are stuck in their cars.

Another fairly new business in Mileground Plaza that seems to be successful is Casey`s ATA Black Belt Academy.  The owners are a husband and wife team, Lesley and Mark Casey. 

The academy was opened a year ago this month, said Mark.  He said that so far the business has had to expand three times because of the demand for lessons. 

At the academy, Mark said not only is martial arts taught but also life lessons: respect, discipline and achieving one`s goals are emphasized.
Mark believes that traffic on the Mileground and the location of the academy has helped his business take off.  He hopes in the future to expand further and change the world, one black belt at a time. "

People of all ages are welcome to come in and get a free trial lesson, " said Mark. One thing Mark has learned from being a  martial arts teacher is it is never too late to learn to defend ones self.