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Wednesday July 30, 2014
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Downtown Rebound

 

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individuals and prospective businesses. But plenty of challenges remain.

Plenty of retail casualties have littered the downtown landscapes in recent years. Just in recent months, a premier bike shop in Saline, a much-praised restaurant in Dexter, and an art gallery and a longtime independent bookstore in Chelsea have closed. But business owners soldier on, and in some cases new entrepreneurs have stepped forward to fill the holes. With competition from big-box stores, malls, national franchises, and Internet shopping, downtown merchants must often reinvent themselves or band together to market to customers old and new. In this effort, their historic settings and the uniqueness of their businesses are key advantages.

In Saline, busy Michigan Avenue is a deterrent to loitering, and Driskell knows it. She's working with the city's Business Development Association to create "pocket parks," small areas behind downtown shops that will offer benches and tables to encourage customers to linger. And Saline's arts and culture committee is partnering with artists to create downtown art that doubles as functional furniture. The BDA is developing ideas for a pavilion to house more downtown events in the future.

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