Vacant storefronts spur Tryon community brainstorming session on Monday, July 9

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Saturday, June 30, two businesses, Café at My Place and Kathleen’s Gallery, packed up their storefronts on N. Trade Street in Tryon.
Kathleen’s Gallery relocated to Saluda, and Café at My Place is looking for a new location.
These moves and the loss of other downtown businesses have prompted interested parties to schedule a brainstorming session Monday, July 9 at 5 p.m. at the Tryon Depot.
Andy Millard of Millard and Company will facilitate the meeting. He said business owners of Tryon decided to organize the meeting in an effort to generate positive ideas and facilitate the connection of property owners with prospective tenants and/or buyers.
“Leave your complaints at home,” Millard said. “We’re looking for ideas that work.”
Concerns over the state of Tryon’s downtown area were vocalized in two public Tryon meetings in June – the unveiling of the Depot Plaza Streetscape plans and the June 19 Tryon Town Council meeting.
Since those meetings, three businesses have left their Trade Street locations.
Artist Richard Baker, who has also moved to a spot in Saluda, was the third.
“I need to say… the community in Tryon has humbled me – it’s been a gracious community and has supported me. For an artist to be successful in these times, I’ve been blessed, but I’ve maxed out of my space,” Baker said. “[Moving] is bittersweet for me.”
Baker said finding a larger space in Tryon was not affordable for him. He said he couldn’t find much for less than $1 per square foot.
Connecting prospective renters with owners of vacant commercial properties is a main focus of Monday’s meeting. Property owners are in fact encouraged to bring floor plans and other rental information with them to the meeting. If desired by property owners, the information could be kept in a central registry, perhaps at town hall, so prospective tenants can easily obtain information on properties that might interest them, organizers suggested.
Baker said he believes Tryon needs a different type of business to attract more visitors.
“I’m an artist – I’m not an anchor business or a draw for the community,” Baker said. “It seems that is what this town is missing.”
Local residents are asked to attend Monday’s meeting too and share their own thoughts about the types of businesses they would patronize. Tryonites, both natives and newcomers, have already expressed on interests in seeing businesses from an old-fashioned soda shop to children’s clothing stores and a massage business. This meeting aims to continue such community discussions.
The meeting is not sponsored by any official organization; instead, it arose out of discussions between property owners and customers. While other groups have explored this topic before, organizers said this session is different in its goal of bringing the three groups together to seek solutions that meet the needs of all concerned.

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