It is said that perception becomes reality––recognizing five vacant commercial spaces in downtown Granite Falls, the Granite Falls Chamber of Commerce is working to encourage a reality wherein these store fronts are filled.
“Perception has much to do with vitality,” says Chamber Director Nicole Zempel. “If a small town main street looks empty and feels empty or in decline, what potential new business is going to see themselves opening up shop downtown? Who is going to want to visit or shop downtown?” she asks rhetorically.
In order to direct perceptions, the Chamber recently began the implementation of a Main Street Storefront Project in which vacant storefront windows are dressed up artistically to promote positive association and interest.
“It is a great way to draw fresh attention to buildings that are for sale or rent,” Zempel said. “It could also play a role in attracting potential new businesses because there will be a recognition that people in this community care about their main street environment and support it. All of these buildings are such unique spaces with such great history––there is great potential in each of these locations for a new businesses.”
Thus far, the creative energies of the Chamber of Commerce and the Granite Falls Youth Art Camp put on by local artist Tamara Isfeld has lent itself to the creation of river-related art scenes in the Main Street window displays of the recently shuttered Du-Mart building. The project has caught on with other individuals and organizations, and it is they who are hoping to take the reins in dressing up the remaining four properties.
“When [Chamber of Commerce intern Kyrie Kotlowski] and I were working on the Du-Mart window we had several curious folk stop in,” said Zempel. “The initial act of just getting the ball rolling is really all it took. This was the kind of participation we were hoping for.”
Already drawing the energies of volunteers interested in creating their own window displays for the betterment of main street seems to be changing attitudes earlier than the Chamber had hoped for. Indeed, perception is becoming reality. And reality is looking up in Granite Falls.