Downtown stores need customers to succeed

Signs put up recently by Marietta Main Street in empty downtown spaces asked residents as they passed by to write what they would most like to see in the space.

That’s an idea we really like. Why not go straight to the public and see what there is demand for?

But what we noticed from the responses people gave is that many of those businesses have already existed downtown and have had to close their doors.

Some of the most popular responses were bakery, coffee shop and book store.

Marietta’s last book store is going out of business this weekend, while there have been numerous Front Street bakeries in the last decade that haven’t succeeded.

Sometimes the failure of a business is solely determined by the owner. There may be poor business practices or financial trouble from the start.

But often the failure or success of a start-up rests in the hands of consumers.

If we’re asking that these storefronts be filled with the bakeries, coffee shops and book stores we say we want, then we have to remember to support them once they’re there.

It can be easy to just go to the large chain store, where there’s plenty of parking and you can accomplish several shopping tasks at once. But for our downtown to remain vital and healthy, we have to shop local whenever we can and support the business owners.

It’s sad to see someone realize a dream of opening their own business, only to see a “for sale” or “for rent” sign just months later.

If we don’t show up as customers and encourage our neighbors to do the same, then we’ll just be looking at more “I Wish This Was…” signs and empty storefronts in the future.

The next step for Marietta Main Street is to market the available spaces and even help recruit potential entrepreneurs, with a goal of filling those downtown slots with what community members most desire.

After that, let’s all do our part and keep those businesses thriving.