Many small towns have a challenge of too many empty buildings or too many buildings used only for storage.
In one small town, the problem was an existing store that was using a neighboring building for storage, but had nothing in the windows. In another town, it was a building used for storage by a moving and storage company. They have just plain curtains in the front windows. Lots of buildings are up for rent, so they have nothing in the window except a “for lease” sign. None of these is adding anything positive to the downtown, and they actually make it feel less full.
To bring more life and activity to your downtown, you have to get something interesting in those otherwise empty windows.
Toni Henry sent this story of filling empty windows in her small town, and it’s one that any small town could copy.
In the small town of East Brady, Pennsylvania, (population 950) there are several vacant store fronts. In October a building owner gave permission for volunteers to clean-up the façade of one of her buildings and to dress up the windows with local artwork. The project cost our East Brady Area Development Corporation (a non-profit made up of volunteers) a total of $100 for a sign, a blind on the door (to hide the interior), several plexiglass frames for identification of artists and their work and small heaters to prevent condensation on the windows.
Since putting out some free PR requesting artists to participate we have showcased at least 20 artist’s works. The displays have changed often and the month of November we dedicated one window to High School art – great collaboration with the local school!. That window was changed out recently to holiday art. We are hoping to get elementary school art for February and the high school wants to participate again in March. The artists have been excited about the opportunity to showcase their work and show up to assist in changing the exhibits. A feel good low cost project!!
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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.