Every small town downtown has some unused buildings and others used just for storage. They aren’t adding anything to the downtown economy. What can you do with them, besides ignore them?
Use the storefronts to advertise other businesses.
Yes, it will take cooperative building owners. And this only works if the front windows are in good shape. But it’s better than painting or boarding over windows, or even worse, leaving a view into the empty space or the junk stored there.
These photos are of a building used for storage in downtown Alva, Oklahoma. The front windows were rented out to other retail businesses that didn’t have a downtown presence.
Update: Also check out these new examples from Elkhart, Kansas.
Would you rather fill those empty buildings? Deb Brown and I have put together a Toolkit to show you how she filled empty buildings by running a tour. You can get the details at the Tour of Empty Buildings Toolkit.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.