Merchants want clean sidewalks, more shoppers
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Dirty sidewalks, including badly deteriorated canopies, and slow business activity were concerns voiced by several downtown merchants to this inquiring reporter recently.
Business owners want the city to get rid of pigeon droppings on sidewalks and come up with the money needed to repair, clean and maintain the canopies. They also believe more city-wide trade promotions, such as the popular "Christmas Open House" is needed to boost sales during slow business periods.
Mayor Dwight Tankersley said help is on the way. He has solicited a bid from a company that specializes in bird (pigeon) control.
"The source of the problem is the pigeons. We have to find a way to get rid of them," he said.
"We only get one chance to make a good impression on visitors to town and we don't want to miss out when we have the opportunity to do that," he added.
Tankersley said he would take the bird control bid proposal to the council for consideration in the near future.
Tankersley also said he is excited about the prospect that the city will be able to get grant assistance to make repairs, clean and make other improvements to the sidewalk canopies.
Application was made for a $450,000 streetscape grant through the Alabama Department of Transportation before the previous council left office. If approved, the money, which includes a $90,000 local match, would be used not only to restore the canopies but also to replace sidewalks, lights and make other improvements.
A member of the Hartselle Antique Association pointed out that other cities lure antique shoppers with as many as eight or nine city-wide trade promotions every year.
"Business has been slow in recent weeks. To offset the slow periods, we need to come up with more special trade promotions. I am aware of other cities that sponsor as many as eight or nine special trade events every year," she pointed out.
Currently, Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors two major trade promotions, Depot Days and Christmas Open House. Chamber President Susan Hines said she wants to add others, especially an annual spring event.
"Earlier this year we looked at the possibility of having a town-wide antique appraisal and fair but opted for another type of promotion. We want to do everything we can to promote the success of our businesses and we haven't given up on a spring event that will benefit them directly," she said.
Another concern expressed by the merchants was the recent loss of two businesses on Main Street.
"We working hard to identify and bring in new businesses to fill market gaps in the community," Hines said. "And, in so doing we don't want to miss an opportunity to locate a business in an empty building in the Central Business District. I would encourage property owners to contact the chamber and let us know when they have a building to rent."
"I think we need to do everything we can to retain our existing businesses and to help ensure their continued success," Tankersley said. "Retail business activity is directly related to the city's ability to provide services for its citizens."