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My Turn: Closed streets hurt merchants

By Karen Lilly-Bowyer

It’s the first weekend in June and many Salisbury folks are looking forward to a night of great music and visiting with friends at Pops at the Post. This event is one that I look forward to every year. However, today when I drove downtown a little before noon, I was shocked to see that many of the main roadways in town were blocked off. I understood why the first block of South Church Street was blocked. What I didn’t understand is why the first block of South Main Street was blocked and why the intersections of West Fisher at South Main and East Fisher at South Main were blocked.

Out of curiosity, I parked on Innes and walked down South Main to see who the vendors were that merited blocking one of the main arteries of our small town. I was not impressed.

I walked into several local stores that I often patronize and spoke with the proprietors. I asked, “Who made the decision to close off South Main on this particular Saturday?” I was told that Downtown Salisbury Inc. planned the event, and they sold tent/booth space for $10 each. That is certainly cheap. You can’t sell your junk at the flea market for that price!

I also asked the store owners how they felt about the DSI event. One business owner told me that on a normal Saturday morning she would sell $300 to $400 of product. On the morning of June 3, 2017, she had sold $6 of product. Needless to say, she was more than a little upset by the distraction that DSI had caused with their poorly planned marketing gimmick.

As a native of Salisbury, I am always impressed with the generosity of the folks who give monetarily and also of the folks who give their time to make our little town a better place to live.

What I don’t understand is how our city government manages to hire people that don’t have the brain power to manage the gifts that we are given. If I am generous with my estimate, there were 20 tents on South Main Street. That brought in $200 for the city. Great, but our local merchants lost thousands of dollars in sales because their customers could not drive through town or park and shop. The shop owners who work so hard to sustain our downtown were the losers. Our downtown merchants deserve to be treated better.

Additionally, with South Church Street blocked and East and West Fisher Street blocked as well as the entire first block of South Main Street blocked, our little town would have been up the proverbial creek if there had been an accident or fire in the downtown area. They put our town and merchants at risk. What was DSI thinking? Better still, why weren’t they thinking? Was this approved by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles? Did Downtown Salisbury have permission from the state to block U.S. 29?

What is so sad is that the folks at Downtown Salisbury thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of the Pops at the Post event to bolster their agenda. How sad — greedy and stupid!

Karen Lilly-Bowyer lives in Salisbury.

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