What is it like being a merchant in the City of Georgetown?
That was the focus of a recent survey initiated by the Georgetown Business Association at the request of City Councilman Paige Sawyer, according to GBA president Al Joseph.
It was conducted by Coastal Carolina University’s research department.
Joseph said one of his concerns about the survey is the number of merchants who participated. A total of 35 merchants, most on Front Street chose to take part.
Four researchers spent about 28 hours on foot and by phone conducting the survey.
According to the results released last week, slightly more than 91 percent of those surveyed said Georgetown has a “small town feel” while nearly 89 percent said they feel the city is “friendly and polite.”
On another note, more than 71 percent said they feel city officials do not consult with merchants when there is a problem.
The merchants were also asked to provide feedback about what it is like operating a business in Georgetown.
One respondent said taxes and fees in the city are “over the top.”
Another merchant said “Georgetown has not bothered to market. Many people drive through town and do not know Front Street even exists … The entryways into this town look like war zones.”
Divisiveness in the town was addressed by another participant.
“Georgetown’s #1 problem is that it is divided. There is the Historic District and the other side of Georgetown. The other side does not understand if the Historic District thrives, so will they.”
“City treats all equally crappy,” another merchant wrote.
Other comments included: City government is not friendly to new businesses, there is alcohol consumption on the streets at night and in front of children, nothing for children to do, and the city needs to encourage “the right kinds of festivals” to be held on Front Street.
Some of the merchants seemed to be more satisfied with the city than others.
“The Wooden Boat Show benefits our store more than other festivals. The crime situation is much better than it used to be. Tourism is generally positive,” the merchant responded.
Some recommendations made by the merchants include:
• Extend the two-hour parking time limit to encourage longer stays.
• Create a parking area for merchants and employees off Front Street.
• Have volunteers on Front Street who can greet visitors and offer information about the city.
• Hold a festival, sponsored by the city, to show appreciation to the merchants.
• Hold meetings where merchants can voice concerns.
• Once a week, have a day of shopping where merchants offer a percentage off to encourage shoppers to visit Front Street.
By Scott Harper
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