While there was a shortage of attendees at the first Downtown Merchants meeting of the new year, there was no shortage of ideas for the town's future. First things first, though.
Merchants reported having "very good" sales during the Christmas holiday shopping period despite the sluggish economy. Most, if not all, seemed pleased with their sales.
President Ed Griesel noted that The Inter-Mountain is planning to run the "I Shop Locally" advertising campaign again and suggested that some changes be incorporated into the new program that might help reduce the cost to the merchants while giving maximum exposure. He and the merchants will be discussing the program in detail in the coming days.
Some felt that the first "I Shop Locally" advertising campaign in January and February 2009 was more successful than the one in the spring and summer, thus their concern for changes in the program.
The merchants agreed to enter discussions regarding their issues with advertising officials at The Inter-Mountain.
Scott Goddard, dean of students at Davis & Elkins College, mentioned his concern about the erosion of the Internet into the effectiveness of not only advertising in The Inter-Mountain but as a source where people are getting their news. He is also concerned about the effects of the Internet on the total number of copies of the newspaper's circulation. There were no definitive answers to his concerns, but as he acknowledged, he is but one of many who are concerned about the Internet's affect on our regional newspaper.
Goddard told those in attendance that many of his students are required to participate in community service work as part of their curriculum.
He said, "All you have to do is let us know what you need and want accomplished and I'll find the students whose needs best fit what needs to be done. They are capable of providing a great variety of services to the community but we want their work experience to be meaningful and productive not only to the community but for them as well. We want them to feel good about what they have done. They want to gain knowledge from what they do. They are willing to participate in a variety of work areas that might range from administrative assistant work in the mayor's office to working with the city's beautification programs," he said.
If you have a project you think Goddard's students can help with, call 304-642-1352.
Goddard also mentioned that the students at D&E had the good fortune to become the benefactors of a chocolate company that went out of business and was given their equipment.
Students now have their own "chocolate factory" and are learning the techniques of "their chocolate-making trade."
This news excited the imagination of the merchants who immediately began to discuss the possibility of having a "merchant's chocolate day."
They decided the day would be March 6, the day of the Rich Mountain Battle Field/Tygart Valley Lions Club Rifle Rally. They are hoping this might provide an additional incentive for the women to shop with local merchants while their husbands are at the gun rally.
Merchants who would like to share their ideas and participate in the special event should call Ed or Elaine Griesel at Ceramics with Class at 304-636-2903.
This year's Rifle Rally will take place at the Elkins National Guard Armory. The doors will open at 11:30 a.m. Additional information may be obtained by calling the Rich Mountain Battlefield Foundation at 304-637-7424.
Mayor Duke Talbott was asked about the problems associated with the heavy snow and its removal during the past few weeks. He said that city personnel are working hard to handle the volume of snow that has been received.
"We had to establish a special repair shop to handle the maintenance of the equipment associated with the heavy workload created by the heavy snowfall," Talbott said. "We pulled people out of other departments to help with the snow removal. Many people did a lot of things they don't normally do to keep the streets in as good a shape as possible.
"I am very proud of the city's employees," he said, "for doing everything they could to keep the disruptions to service and inconveniences of the situation for our people to the lowest possible level."
The merchants had a brief discussion on the possibility of creating a light show in Elkins in the coming years during the Christmas holiday season.
Several places where the display might be constructed were discussed along with ways and means of funding the project.
Beliefs are that if other cities can have displays of this nature, why can't the city of Elkins.
Personally, I think it's a great idea.