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Calling shoppers downtown

The City of Hagerstown is using billboards, and radio, television and newspaper advertisements to encourage people to do busines

The City of Hagerstown is using billboards, and radio, television and newspaper advertisements to encourage people to do busines

November 12, 2002|By SCOTT BUTKI

HAGERSTOWN - The City of Hagerstown has purchased advertising to try to lure shoppers downtown who otherwise might be deterred by the Maryland Highway Administration's U.S. 40 Streetscape construction work.

The city is spending a total of $3,530 on the advertising campaign, city spokeswoman Karen Giffin said.

The city bought four billboard ads that say, "While we beautify our city ... please continue to support our downtown businesses," Giffin said.

The billboard messages, which went up last week on West Washington Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Dual Highway and Virginia Avenue, cost the city $2,798, Giffin said.

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The city also bought 40 30-second commercials on radio station WJEJ at a cost of about $400, she said. The messages were broadcast in recent days.

The city also bought four newspaper ads at a total cost of $332, she said.

The campaign also includes a message on the city's cable channel, Giffin said.

Downtown businesses have reported a drop in sales in recent weeks as the result of the Streetscape work, which has resulted in temporarily closed traffic lanes and reduced downtown parking.

"We know it is a difficult time for merchants," Mayor William M. Breichner said. "We felt we should do something to help out our merchants who have been faithful to us for years and years."

Patty Kucharski, co-owner of the Morninglory Emporium at 27 W. Washington St., said the advertising campaign is a good way to remind people that the companies are still operating and want their business.

"I wanted something to thank people for being so patient," she said.

Kucharski and Cheryl Kenney, manager of the Roccoco restaurant at 20 W. Washington St., said they hope the advertising helps bring customers during the holiday season.

As part of the state-funded contract, the contractor is not allowed to close any lanes after Thanksgiving, City Engineer Rodney Tissue said. While some minor work could be done after Thanksgiving, it would not affect traffic, he said.

"We are glad something is being done with this lack of business because of the traffic. We just hope we do not have any capital improvements like this for a while because it is going to kill everyone," said Peggy Cushwa, owner of Maggie's Hang-Ups at 105 N. Potomac St.

To encourage people to do holiday shopping in downtown Hagerstown, the city is also offering free parking at selected times downtown.

From Nov. 4 through Christmas Day, parking is free at the North Potomac Street parking deck on Saturdays and Sundays and after 7 p.m. on weekdays, Finance Director Alfred Martin said.

Parking will be free for up to two hours at the parking deck during the day on weekdays, he said.

Parking at meters downtown is free after 5 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday, as it is year-round, he said.

The free parking is starting two weeks earlier than last year in an effort to help businesses that may have been hurt by the Streetscape work, Martin said.

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