The popular Murder Mystery Art Stroll took place in Kennett Square last Friday night. The Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society's performance always ranks among the most popular First Friday events each year, and the actors and actresses once again turned in fine performances during the witty, wonderful whodunit. Kudos to KATS for the whole production.

But the real star of the show was Kennett Square itself. The actors in the murder mystery were stationed in about two dozen different businesses throughout the town, and as people moved from one location to the next, they got to see the impressive mix of businesses and shops in the downtown area.

There are State Street stalwarts like Bove Jewelers, the Mushroom Cap, and Burton's Barber Shop, each one representing a different piece of Kennett Square's identity. There are fashion-forward shops like Chantilly Blue, Pink Lily, Ashley Austin Boutique, Frolic!, and Green Eyed Lady. There are at least two dozen restaurants or gourmet eateries located in a town that covers one square mile.

There's no mystery about why Kennett Square is successful. The town's leaders have made some good decisions over the last two decades, creating an environment that is more business-friendly. The Historic Kennett Square organization has done a tremendous job of promoting the town and has played a vital role in attracting new businesses.

The people most responsible for Kennett Square's vitality are the men and women who own the shops and restaurants. They invest a lot more than just money in those businesses. It says a lot about Kennett Square when a business owner like Bill McClane decides to relocate his store, Mystique, which had a long and successful history in Wilmington, Del., to town.

Just a few days before last week's art stroll, Downingtown, Pa.-based Victory Brewing Company announced that it was going to develop an upscale brewpub on the bottom floor of the Pia family's Magnolia Place, a four-story luxury apartment building that includes townhomes, apartments, and retail space.

A few weeks before the announcement by Victory Brewing Company, the LGB Properties' sparkling Market at Liberty Place debuted with George & Son's Seafood Market, the State Street Pizza & Grill, Nourish Coffee Shop & Juice Bar, Rick's Steaks, Yo'R So Sweet, the Paradocx Vineyards Wine Bar, and the Kennett Square Arts Alliance as tenants.

A vibrant small town is a rarity these days, but Kennett Square's leaders continue to find ways to build upon the town's successes. If you haven't been in Kennett Square in a while and somehow missed the murder mystery, the upcoming Mushroom Festival on Sept. 7 and 8 will be another opportunity to enjoy all that Kennett Square has to offer.