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News Main Street plans moving forward

The Franklin Main Street Program is moving forward with plans recommended by a 2010 market analysis.

Program members discussed the objectives in establishing downtown signage along major corridors, way-finding for visitors and a shop crawl for district business owners.

A shop crawl is an initiative that would familiarize downtown retailers on what other businesses have to offer, so they can better provide references for customers. MSP chair Janet Greene said no definite plans had been made yet.

The plan is to have each district (Highlands Road, Depot and Palmer Streets, Main Street, etc.) hold their shop crawls individually. “The intended purpose for this is networking,” explained Main Street business owner Larry Hollifield. Members made plans to gather a list of all nearby property and business owners.

According to Main Street merchant Rob Gasbarro, a date for the shop crawl would be set up before next month’s meeting. “We just have to get everyone on board with it,” he said.

Aside from downtown stakeholders knowing where their fellow shopkeepers are, it was further discussed how to get the shopping public into downtown through signage. Signage was placed on the Highlands Road last month, and signage placement will soon be under way along other district corridors.

“Our main challenge is getting people off of 441,” said Highlands Road district representative Chris Brouwer, suggesting the program focus on drawing traffic inward. “Banners are pretty, but I’ll be honest with you, we got those banners up over the bridge right now, I don’t see the designs on those banners. Personally, you don’t have time to look at them. The gateway signs are the most important thing to just pull people in.”

A downtown “Discover Us!” sign will be placed by the 441N. exit near the City Restaurant. As the initial signs are placed along corridors, additional signs will run along different thoroughfares in Franklin city limits. “You’re going to lead them all the way into town,” said town Alderman Carolyn “Sissy” Pattillo.

While attending a North Carolina Main Street summit in Shelby with Pattillo last month, program director Linda Schlott said the two made note of the downtown layout. “We saw some great way-finding signage there.” Schlott proposed that signage for each district be distinct to that district, in order to establish a sense of place.

Echoing Schlott’s statement, Greene said that districts such as Depot Street and Highlands Road could have differently colored signs or themes that reflect the area and provide distinction.

“I was in Durham a lot this past year, and went to Durham’s Main Street area and they have four districts in their Main Street,” said Greene. “Each were a different color. You just follow the signs ... As it branches off, you follow your color.” She maintained that color coordinated districts were helpful in finding her way through the downtown area.

It was decided to color code gateway signs. Every sign will have a burgundy colored background, and the lettering will have a distinct color for every district. Downtown signage will be discussed at the next Town of Franklin Board of Aldermen.

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