This recently-erected sign currently greets people entering St. Marys from Water Street South.
By Dan Rankin
Next week, as part of an ongoing push by the town’s Business Improvement Area (BIA), residents of St. Marys and the surrounding area will be receiving a “VIP Access Book” in the mail, to remind them that St. Marys’ downtown businesses have a diverse range of products and services to offer – which they will continue to do throughout the Queen Street reconstruction this spring and summer.
BIA members “felt strongly that we needed to show some support for the businesses downtown through this construction,” said St. Marys Downtown Business Association member Sue Hyatt Griffiths. “We wanted each business to be able to promote what they do.”
The “VIP Access Book” will contain information from 80 businesses across the town’s BIA district, which stretches from Thomas Street to Peel Street along Queen and “from the Creamery to Canadian Tire,” Hyatt Griffiths said.
For many retailers that includes promotional deals, but also featured in the book is information about the range of services downtown businesses offer. “We wanted to make sure that this was offered to every single business with a doorway in the downtown,” Hyatt Griffiths said. “From real estate to the hair salons to banking, and the retail stores. So, it’s more inclusionary.”
Also featured, importantly, is information on where to park and how to access businesses during Queen Street construction. “There’s a map in there that has all of the different parking areas marked on it,” said BIA chairperson Julie Docker-Johnson. “It should be very informative to people to let them know what’s where and how to get there.”
Docker-Johnson, who has recently been out painting the back door to her Queen Street business The Flower Shop and More, said people can expect to see plentiful signage around downtown indicating which alleyways to follow to access back entrances to businesses, as well as where to park.
Besides VIP Access Books distributed through the mail, Hyatt Griffiths said several folks working downtown to provide information to shoppers will also carry copies of the books. “If stores want to request extra copies of it, they can,” she added.
Looking ahead to the downtown festivals that normally take place on Queen Street throughout the summer, Docker-Johnson said arrangements have already been made for the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s Induction Weekend Family Street Festival to be held along Water Street. Construction is scheduled to, “be done by Heritage Festival, so Heritage Fest will be on Queen Street as it usually is,” she said.
Hyatt Griffiths said she hopes the book sends a message to the local community, that St. Marys’ downtown businesses, “absolutely value their patronage, and we want them to make an effort to come down even though the construction is going to make things difficult.”
“It’s just a way for the BIA to show their retailers and the businesses that we’re supporting them,” she said. “We want to get the community rallied together to weather this inconvenience together, and support the local businesses and keep them viable until the dust settles.”