In the past I have commonly referred to the meetings conducted by "The Downtown Elkins Promotional Committee" as being "The Elkins Downtown Merchant's Association" or the "Downtown Merchants," and who knows what else. It's time to change my ways and use the organization's proper title. Only the former is correct, to which I shall endeavor to refer in all future utterances.
The individual (a merchant not located in the immediate downtown area) who brought this to my attention also voiced what appears to be a concern of many the merchants whose business is not situated in immediate downtown area. That is that the name of the organization (irrespective of how I've used it) implies that the merchants outside the immediate downtown area are not included. I have heard this said on several other occasions, especially by some of those located on Harrison and Randolph avenues.
Having attended this group's meetings over the past several years, I know that the intent of the organization is to promote every single business in the city of Elkins, not just those in the immediate downtown area. That does not, however, mitigate the feelings of those who feel left out. So, what's the answer?
There might be several - or at least one or two. One might be to change the name of the group to "The Elkins Merchant's Promotional Association" or "The Elkins Merchant's Promotional Committee," or simply, "The Elkins Merchant's Association." If changing the name to one that omits the word "downtown" makes everyone feel more a part of the group, why not? Having said that, however, the one thing that makes the group all-inclusive is the attendance of the meetings by all the business owners or their representative whether it be banks, insurance companies, investment firms (a member of one of this group is at nearly every meeting), contractors, health providers, restaurateurs, hardware stores or mom and pop shops.
The organization's meetings are an informal gathering of people who have an interest in the progress, beauty, prosperity and future of the entire town and its surrounding area. One does not have to fill out an application to join, there are no initiation or annual fees, no debate by seated members as to whether or not an applicant meets a certain set of criteria; all you have to do is come to Ceramics with Class on the designated days of the meetings - generally every other Tuesday - and have a seat. After an informal session of about an hour or so, breakfast prepared by Elaine Griesel awaits those who wish to take the extra time to enjoy.
The "group" or "committee," however one wishes to consider it, has grown respectfully in the years since I started attending them in 2004. At that time, the average attendance was about six or eight people; recent meetings have seen upwards to 20 people - sometimes more - all of which, aside from their own interests, have a very real interest in the town's and surrounding area's future. The prosperity of an area does not depend on and is not sustainable by only a few - it is dependent upon the diversity of the whole.
Attending the meetings and taking part in the group's activities - regardless of what it's called or where you're located in and around the city - is like voting. Have a say in what's happening - attend the meetings and share your knowledge and ideas. They are as welcome as sunshine on a budding spring flower and will help in the overall scheme of what happens - all for the betterment of everyone. I have heard several merchants say, "Oh, they don't want to hear what I've got to say." I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.
If you'd like more information regarding the group or its activities, call Ed Griesel at 304-636-2903. The next meeting is at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Ceramics with Class.
Fresh Food Fridays will commence on June 12, and will be open on the second and fourth Friday of each month, according to Nancy Barlow, executive secretary of the Randolph County Development Authority. She said that they are working on installing a sound system at the town square and as soon as it is finished, music will be provided by local musicians for the noontime affair.
Barlow said they are still looking for vendors. Those wishing to participate should call her at 304-637-0803.
According to Ed Griesel, president of the Downtown Elkins Promotional Committee, the brochures designed by him and other committee merchants and printed by The Inter-Mountain have been distributed to visitor centers all across West Virginia and neighboring states "by the thousands." This will help attract new and repeat visitors to our area bringing a boost to the local economy. Every business entity in the community, whether downtown or the surrounding county, owes the group that worked so hard on this project a "thank you" for a job well done.
Local residents planning a trip to "the outside world" are welcomed to contact Griesel and take "a handful" of the brochures to visitor centers along their way. He knows exactly where they have and have not been placed and welcomes the help in getting them distributed.
Brian Elliott of Edward Jones Investments announced at the Downtown Elkins Promotional Committee meeting on May 19 that he will be moving his office now located at 214 Davis Ave. to 111 Randolph Ave. on Tuesday and Wednesday. He will open his new office for business on Thursday. The new location is next door to Granny's Attic.
Participating merchants are needed for the downtown poker walks on the evening of July 3 and on July 4 during the weekend car show being sponsored by Mountain State Street Machines and the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce. This is an excellent way of getting people, both local residents and out-of-town visitors alike, to visit your place of business during West Virginia's largest car show. To sign up to participate or for additional information, call the ERCCC at 304-636-2717.
Sue Pifer told me that she has had many visitors come into her store during these events who came back later and told her that they returned because they didn't have time to stay longer on their first visit. What a great way to make new friends and build your clientele.
When researching the subjects that are included in this column, many comical things come across my desk - a great many of them worthy of sharing with you, but space just doesn't permit it. Some, however, I can't resist; besides, everyone needs a laugh once in a while.
Last week I received an e-mail from a schoolteacher (who shall remain nameless) with some quotes of schoolchildren, all 10 years of age or younger, on the subject of dating and marriage. Here are a couple of the questions they were asked and their answers:
(Q) How do you decide who to marry?
(A) You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming. (Alan, age 10 - way to go, Alan).
(Q) What do most people do on a date?
(A) Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough. (Lynnette, age 8 - doesn't she have the male gender figured out already?)