Stores Seek Relief From Easton Construction
Work on Easton's South Third Street has businesses banding together with one message: We're still open.
Michelle Colbert doesn't like what she sees: An empty antiques store.
But for the past two months, the only traffic the employee of Salvage Goods has seen are the construction crews working out front tearing up Third Street.
On this Thursday, construction crews worked on the street along with cement mixers and dump trucks to install new curbing and sidewalks along one of Easton's main arteries.
Orange fencing and cones are everywhere. And despite signs stating that some businesses are open, customers are nowhere to be found.
"Our business is down 75 percent," Colbert said. "A lot of people are calling asking if we are closed."
"This has been going on too long," Colbert said. "It's now the second month. We have to survive. But you can go from thriving to nothing."
And that's what The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Easton Main Street Initiative are hoping to avoid.
"We're spreading the word that we're still here," said Alison Miers, the chamber's vice president of Easton initiatives. "As community leaders, we want to talk the businesses up and say that they need your support."
Miers is also trying to ease frustrations by telling business owners that they need to see the bigger picture, of what the new curbing and sidewalks might bring.
"This project is going to beautify the downtown district," she said. "We keep telling them what the end is going to look like and that they have to get through this."
Brittany Vokoun of the Easton Main Street Initiative has been working on a South Third Street awareness campaign to help the businesses.
Vokoun and merchants have held bi-weekly meetings to come up with promotional and marketing ideas such as more signage and even a banner touting the businesses in that stretch.
Some logos as being developed, including one with a ribbon around a finger reminding people not to forget the businesses. Some events are being discussed where businesses would hold mixers or pass out coupon cards.
Today, artists will be on hand at the Easton Farmers' Market to sketch what's happening on the street.
"We want to make sure we capture the moment," Vokoun said. "We want to create a buzz and bring awareness."
She has also worked with city officials and construction crews to ensure that no work is done during the evenings and on weekends, giving businesses a chance to earn some income.
"We're not fighting. We know it's gonna get ugly before it gets better," Vokoun said. "There is a struggle, but we have to remain positive. There is light at the end of the tunnel."