By Joanne McDonald
Initial efforts to restore some level of normalcy to downtown commerce in Grimsby have gone well, says Mayor Jeff Jordan.
Jordan, one of town council’s liaison members of the Grimsby Downtown Improvement Area (DIA) Board, said comments received from visitors and downtown merchants have been extremely positive since the move was made last month to realign the north side pedestrian walkway.
“The work that went into those changes in a very short amount of time has all been worth it. From everything I have heard, foot traffic is up, restaurant patios and stores are busy and it all looks great,” said Jordan.
His comment was supported by DIA president Mike Williscraft, who added that many retailers have seen higher than average sales results in the last 10 days.
“No doubt The Big Spend program we opted into worked out very well. We had a lot of positive feedback on that, but with that event and the new layout downtown it does seem to have spurred interest as it has spun off into other days since,” said Williscraft.
“That, really, is the whole point of this kind of thing. Our job as a board is to do things which, hopefully, interest people into coming downtown and taking advantage of all the goods and services our merchants offer.”
While the installation of the cement barriers along the north side traffic lane took place Thursday, July 23, it took until a week later to get some of the beautification measures in place, namely, more than 120 flower boxes which align both sides of the barriers.
While the flowers were ready much earlier, installation was delayed slightly to allow for fabrication of specially sized brackets to hold the boxes.
Dave Craig of Trillium Greenhouses worked with Zwart Systems of Beamsville, who got it done in a matter of days.
“The people at Zwart really came through for us and it all worked out great,” said Craig, who also installed some large planters along the sidewalk just to add some additional colour.
“We really appreciate Dave’s efforts as well as those from Zwart Systems. It really came together for a very positive result for downtown,” said Jordan.
Williscraft noted the beautification measures and initial promotional event are, what he hopes, is a start to getting things back to some level of normal for downtown merchants.
“Generally, it has been tough to brutal for merchants, so things can only get better. At this point I have spoken with virtually every merchant in the core and their stories vary,” said Williscraft.
“Some have said they continued to get great support from customers who called to place orders by phone. Much simply depends on what goods one sells or services one provides.”
The DIA will be hosting a meeting Thursday morning to discuss new promotional ideas and review how things have gone to date.
“The past is the past. We need to keep looking ahead, keep moving,” said Williscraft.