Recently I learned of a very interesting story of one person’s determination to make his downtown more inviting…. a place that people would want to come and spend time in.
It’s an atypical downtown where a major highway dissects it and large volumes of transient traffic flow through each day. That in it self stacks the cards against this small town. It has likely been atleast 20 years since any major physical improvements have been made and the retail sector has suffered the usual Walmart big box store invasion. Some merchants have made façade improvements but its just not getting there.
Bring in, lets call him Walter, who purchased a very small linear store to operate his office in. He didn’t have to locate his business in the core but wanted to in order to be able to help contribute to real, positive, meaningful downtown change. His business would have survived nicely in a back ally, industrial park or side street but he decided to be in the downtown.
Immediately after taking ownership Walter significantly improved the interior and the exterior of the store. Change was beginning. He then worked with the municipality to change the signage bylaw to allow perpendicular business signage, a major downtown design fundamental.
After the flower planters, it was time to give passersby a place to sit. Like all other downtown design elements, places to sit are very important. People are social creatures and want to be with other people….and where there are people there is happiness and where there is happiness there is commerce. Walter’s little bench on this busy thoroughfare is symbolic that small things can make a difference. You watch, it started with one, lets see how many sprout up and see how many more people call this downtown a place to be.