Shop local to keep downtown thriving

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

What’s Up Middlesboro! What an amazing week we have had.

The Main Street Tailgate Event was a lot of fun, especially since Kentucky beat Missouri. I enjoyed seeing community members hanging out, laughing and just having fun.

This Saturday, Nov. 12 at 11 a.m. we will have the opportunity to Salute our Veterans.

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Community Trust Bank sponsored the concert with Cody Joe Hodges. Hodges is a veteran himself and was excited to be a part of our event. He is coming in from Nashville for the 11:30 a.m. concert then turning right around and going back to Nashville for an evening concert there. I hope you will come out and enjoy Cody’s performance. I am also really excited to have Blake Branscom from right here in Bell County. I tried to have Blake perform for us back in September, but I was not able to get things worked out. However, when I saw the opportunity for him to come to this event I reached out and he did not hesitate to say “yes.” Another very special thing about his yes was that Blake is providing this concert as a gift to our veterans. I really am looking forward to both performance and of course the Hillbilly Egg Rolls from the Hillbilly Q food truck. Again, I hope that you will take some time out of your Saturday to join us at the Levitt Lot for this event.

During this past week I have been working with Main Street businesses for Holidays on the Avenue. We are going to have our holiday window contest again this year. Just for you Flowers and Gifts has already gotten their holiday window ready. Now voting for the Holiday Window Contest does not start until Dec. 3, but don’t let that stop you from coming out to enjoy their window. Another really fun thing that we are going to do this year is a Special Holiday Shopping Night on Dec. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Several of our shops will be open so you can come do some Christmas shopping. We also are planning for some other very special happenings that night, so make sure to put that on your calendar.

Since I am limited on words I want to make sure I talk about something very serious regarding our amazing downtown. I’m sure you have noticed we have added new shops but we have also lost shops also. I have asked the business owners why they closed and/or moved their shop to a different city, plus I have also asked existing businesses what there number one struggle is, and no surprise the answer is the same — lack of customers. No customers means no sales. No sales means no income. No income means they can not stay open. If we want to have a thriving Main Street District, then we need to support the businesses here. I know many of you come down to enjoy dinner at Shades and Ike’s, but what other Main Street businesses do you support? Did you know that the average rent for a downtown commercial space is $1,000 per month. Besides rent, business owners have to pay their utilities and their employees. So, if a business has no sales, how can they pay these expenses?

If they can’t pay the expenses, then they cannot stay in business. If they don’t stay in business then we don’t have a thriving downtown. We have empty and rundown buildings, which will encourage undesirable activity and discourage visitors to the area. The only way we can fix this problem is to come downtown and shop in our downtown businesses. Let’s show our downtown businesses that we want them to stay around.

Until next Saturday, share some kindness to those around you and know that you matter.