FAIRMONT– Self-watering planters will soon line downtown streets as Main Street Fairmont gears up for a season of monthly events.
In the past, downtown flower boxes required a significant amount of maintenance and water. The nonprofit economic development organization purchased the self-watering planters with corporate and individual donations and funding from the City of Fairmont. They will contain petunias and sweet potato vines and will be installed when the plants are mature.
“We believe this is a way to help with climate change and weather unpredictability and give plants a better chance to bloom more fully downtown,” said Swiger, general manager of Main Street Fairmont.
The way donations are collected has changed. Main Street will be collecting donations for the whole year this month. The goal is for donors to contribute now so they can be recognized with signage at every Main Street Fairmont event in the future. Swiger hopes to receive donations by the end of April to ensure donors can be recognized, but will accept all donations throughout the year.
Swiger said he was excited and intrigued by the results of a poll conducted last fall regarding residents’ vision for the downtown core. More than 350 Fairmont residents were asked where they frequent Downtown Fairmont and what type of businesses and restaurants they would like to see added here.
Swiger said the investigation was the first step. They will work with the national Main Street organization, city and county officials and business owners in a strategy session. The “Transformation Strategy” will take elements of the survey along with all the experience of business owners and managers to create a strategic plan for the future of downtown Fairmont.
“When we come out of this, we hope to have a vision that all of the key players who want to make Fairmont a better place have a part in and that we’re all working towards a common goal,” Swiger said.
Tiffany Walker Samuels has owned a downtown business since June 2016. She said it was very rewarding to provide the products and services that Fairmont residents demanded and to employ the women who work in the store, Eye Candy Beauty Supply.
However, she said the lack of foot traffic was constantly on her mind as a business owner. She said Main Street Fairmont has been very helpful on Small Business Saturday and at some of the other events she enjoys, like the Seven Fish Festival and the Hometown Market, foot traffic is increased.
“I grew up here, so I remember the bustling, bustling downtown Fairmont. It might not come back to that, but we could definitely have something a little more,” Walker Samuels said.
She said that while Main Street Fairmont is a helpful resource as a business owner, she hopes that in the future they will be able to better market existing downtown stores and restaurants. She said she understands they have limited funding, but ads promoting businesses here would be helpful.
She hopes Fairmont’s future will become “a place where people come and go from store to store to find unique items they couldn’t find anywhere else.” I think we have a good start for that, we just need more business development, marketing and other investments,” she said.
Main Street Fairmont has a variety of events in the works. A community garage sale will be held in the Madison Street parking garage on April 16th. The Hometown Market will begin in May and run through September. There will be local artisans and artisans, food, live music and a special event paired with the market. For example, at the May Hometown Market, there will be live music from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. known as “Dancing in the Streets.”
“We all realize that Fairmont will never be what it was in the 1980s, we have to build it for the next century and that’s what we plan for now,” Swiger said.
Residents can donate to Main Street Fairmont on their website or you can “donate your time,” as Swiger puts it, at the cleanup events they host. Another way to support Main Street Fairmont is to shop at local businesses and restaurants downtown.