Seems like every rural downtown has a few: empty buildings or buildings used for storage. Those empty buildings are actually a potential advertising tool.
Look at these examples that Vienna Lee showed me in Elkhart, Kansas. Both buildings are empty, with only the front windows used to advertise other businesses.
The hardest part may be talking the empty building owner into agreeing. It may help to point out that everyone benefits: you get the advertising, the building owner gets a little revenue until they can find a new tenant, and the downtown gets something better to look at than an empty shop.
Also check out this example of renting just the front windows for advertising in Alva, Oklahoma.
Would you rather fill those empty buildings with new businesses? 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.