Friday, July 12, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
Ph: 336.228.7851

Downtown businesswomen: 1; Rec dept.: 1


Downtown Graham businesswomen who objected last month to a half-day street closure on a Saturday in June that they said would cost them dearly won a reprieve at this week’s city council meeting when the council agreed to relocate the street festival a block away.

Four businesswomen from three businesses in the 100 block of North Main Street were present at the council’s February meeting, urging the council not to close the 100-block at 1:00, as was being proposed by the city’s recreation and parks department for a “Slice of Summer” street festival.

Graham business owners Cheryl Rich and Amy Wilkinson continued to advocate for moving a planned June 8 event so that it would not result in closing the 100 block of North Main Street in front of their businesses of half of a Saturday, when they say sales are best. At right is recreation and parks director Brian Faucette; on left is Emma Griffin with the department.

The women said Saturdays are their busiest days for sales and that being forced to close would cost precious sales.

Subsequently, the council asked the recreation and parks department to survey downtown businesses and to report back with some options.

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The options were, in essence, the original date (June 8) either in the original location, which was the 100 blocks of North & South Main streets and East and West Elm streets, or a block over in the 100 and 200 blocks of West Elm Street together with the 100 blocks of North and South Maple streets.

Alternatively, the recreation and parks department brought options of either of the foregoing locations but on a Sunday afternoon (June 9), rather than Saturday.

Brian Faucette and Emma Griffin with the recreation department responded to council questions about the alternative locations and days.

Griffin said she felt that the Sunday options would result in a “drop in attendance” for the event.

She also said that the alternative location, along West Elm and North and South Maple streets, may result in needing to “adjust some of the attractions.”

Faucette said that, after checking with the city’s public works department, he had concluded that there would be adequate water, which is an integral part of the Slice of Summer event.

[Story continues below photo of previous Slice of Summer event.]

Council member Bonnie Whitaker was not as sympathetic to the businesswomen, saying that she “can’t understand how one Saturday in a year” causes that much of a problem.

The council ultimately voted for mayor Talley’s motion to pick the option that kept the June 8 date but moved the event to the West Elm and North and South Maple Street venue.

The council generally acknowledged that two businesses – the Maple Street Tavern and C&Z Grill at the corner of West Elm and Maple Street – might be impacted by the street closures around their businesses.


Pumpkin Bash largely unchanged

On a separate festival, the Pumpkin Bash, however, the businesswomen were not as successful at getting any change.

Faucette said he did not consider it appropriate to have a Halloween event on a Sunday, and so he pressed to keep the existing plan to close East and West Elm streets at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, October 25, and North and South Main Streets at 4:00. The Elm streets closures were an hour later than proposed last month, but the Main Street closure was the same.

In that plan, the businesswomen would lose an hour of sales, since they all acknowledged they close their stores at 5:00.

The council separately agreed, 5-0, to the Pumpkin Bash times for closing the respective streets.

After the meeting, one of the businesswoman, Amy Wilkinson, told The Alamance News that she wanted to emphasize that the downtown businesses “don’t want to come across as opposed to the event.  We just didn’t want to have the street closed.  We just don’t want it to affect our stores.”

Wilkinson pointed out that both her store, The Main Line, and Cheryl Rich’s Sandy & Co., are consignment stores so that adverse sales not only hurt the business owners, but also the people who are selling their wares in the two women’s stores.

Both women also mentioned a planned event later this spring, Sidewalk Serenade, on Saturday, April 13, that is sponsored by the downtown businesses but does not involve any street closings.

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