Sunday, November 1, 2020

Main Street Matters

Y'all know I love to travel. I like to visit places that are unique. I like to eat in one of a kind cafes and eateries, see things that are different, listen to different accents and learn new things. I want to see beautiful small communities with vibrant city centers and see how other people live. Getting off the interstates and traveling the backroads, avoiding strip malls and big box chains are ideas that appeal to me. 

If these are the kinds of places I want to visit, why on earth would I wish anything different for my home town? I don't! When I close my eyes and envision a Scottsboro five, ten, twenty years into the future, what do I see? More bypasses and big box chains? No! I see our square dotted with darling cafes and cute shops and exciting event spaces. I see people coming from out of town to visit stores that they can't find anywhere else. I see these locally owned shops and restaurants spilling into the streets surrounding the square, because there are so many of them we can't fit them all onto just four sides of a square. I see more events and bigger, too, because people want to come to our beautiful little town filled with plants and flowers and murals and art. 

One thing that being part of Main Street Alabama has taught me is that a lively economy doesn't just spring from nothing. You have to have something to offer. Do businesses want to come to a town that is depressed and depressing? Do they want to relocate to a town that has nothing to give back? Do their employees want to live somewhere that is ugly and dirty and not loved? No! The changes don't start with the ones who come here. They start with us. And it starts from the inside out. First we change our way of thinking. We become part of the solution, rather than the problem. Then we start with the heart of our town, in our case, our square. We start by cleaning up and sprucing up. We add landscaping and hang flower baskets. 

We paint murals and use many local talents so that each mural is unique. We host events, not just to give our people something to do, but to bring in others, so that they can see what we have to offer. We grow a symbiotic relationship with our business owners. Our events help bring in new customers and, in turn, they stay open for events, they put a little more sparkle into their storefronts, and they become a little more involved, a little more encouraged to try something new. 

To give credit where credit is due, one person really got things going in Scottsboro. Seven years ago, Richard Matthews took it upon himself to singlehandedly give our beloved Variety Bake Shop a facelift. That one act had more impact than any of us could have imagined. I really believe every single good thing that has happened on our square since, was an indirect result of his willingness to give back to his community.

Payne's Soda Fountain has been a big supporter of Main Street and, in turn, we realize just how important this venerable old business is to our town. They stay open for all of our events, stay open later on some nights and they give it their all. Recently, for Halloween on the Square, every employee dressed '50s style and the energy they gave off was contagious. As a result, the place was bustling and people were waiting in lines to get seated. It was gratifying to see.

One new store owner, Adam Stiles of Back Porch Pickin' took it upon himself to add corn stalks to our light poles. He just did it! Nobody had to ask him. He offered. And our town looked amazing for Halloween on the Square, all because one person cared enough to roll up his sleeves and do something he could do. 

Diane Widgeon, the owner of another new store, Sassy Nana, put beautiful flower pots outside her shop and she keeps them watered, too. They look great!

Recently, Magnolia House has started staying open at night. How exciting that was to all of us hoping for a bustling night life in our district. We applaud Magnolia House for stepping out and hope they are just the first of many businesses who will be giving people a reason to enjoy our downtown after five. 

Since the heart of our town is our historic Courthouse and our City Hall flanks one of our side streets, we will always be a downtown where county and city business takes place. Our attorneys took care of the buildings when all the businesses fled in the 80s and 90s. We are grateful for their help and support and we support them. It makes sense for them to want to be near the courthouse where they conduct a lot of business. But, for the other buildings on the square, which are limited, we wish for retail and restaurants. We want businesses that will make people want to walk around the square and shop, sit outside and enjoy music piped from the clock tower and our wifi and read a book or share a meal. We want to show people that we love our town and why they should love it too. 

So, what can you do? I don't know. What CAN you do? What skills do you have? What kind of resources do you have that could help make Downtown Scottsboro better in some way? Only you can answer that question, but we would more than welcome your help in any way your heart and your gifts lead you. Perhaps you know of a great shop or diner that would be a wonderful fit for our town. Call them and have them call us. We are actively on the lookout for new businesses and will be happy to meet with them. Our City Council appreciates our current businesses and will always support them, but they are also enthusiastic about helping new businesses come to our town. They are eagerly working to help Scottsboro be a place that is welcoming to new businesses.

Downtown Scottsboro would love for you to join us in helping to make Scottsboro the best little town in north Alabama. Contact us and let us know how you would like to help.

Three Friends and a Fork
Three Friends and a Fork

This is a short biography of the post author. Maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus donec vitae sapien ut libero venenatis faucibus nullam quis ante maecenas nec odio et ante tincidunt tempus donec.

No comments:

Post a Comment