Every small town has empty buildings downtown. Whether they are completely empty or just used for storage, they can make your downtown look vacant. If the building has windows, though, there’s an opportunity to dress them up a bit and maybe even promote another business at the same time.
In the picture above, a building used for storage is also being used to advertise another business that’s located across town. Here’s a previous display in the same windows:
In Elkhart, Kansas, I saw two more good examples. For one, they made a custom banner to hang in the window and make it look like boxes in a display window:
That’s definitely better than just empty windows or another vacant building.
In another set of windows, a local business used promotional items they already had on hand:
At first, I didn’t realize the building was vacant because the windows looked so lively.
In Hollis, Oklahoma, Betty Motley told me how a local group printed special banners to hang in windows. They found images online to use. This one is an empty building with an old-fashioned barber shop theme.
They even painted the door with barbershop lettering to complete the illusion. They also did another building using an antiques store as the theme.
Stacey Colledge from Central City, Iowa, sent me the photos below. They used historic photos of actual old-time businesses in their town, and printed them on static cling material so they can be moved when a building gets rented. A total of 9 has cost them about $2,000, she said.
Look into the future
So far, we’ve seen windows that featured businesses from the past and present, but what about businesses from the future? You know your town has a past, but do you spend enough time reminding people that your town has a future?
Here’s one town that did. Longview, Texas, used a window decal to show a vision of the building occupied by a future business.
Read more about this one at the Longview News-Journal.
Window displays don’t have to be all business. They could be creative, too. Renton, Washington, did a series of window displays featuring a fairy tale theme.
Read more about it at the Renton Reporter.
Filling Your Empty Buildings
You don’t have to stop with decorating the windows. You can actually fill empty buildings with business, no matter how small your town is. Join Deb Brown and me for a 2-part webinar on Filling Empty Buildings at SaveYour.Town. The deadline to register is June 19, 2018.
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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.