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Merchants association to vote on disbanding

February 12, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

If the saying about what goes around comes around is true, it could apply to the Greencastle-Antrim Merchants Association.

The association was organized in the early 1970s when some members of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce decided to form a merchants association to promote their businesses. Now the association is about to fade back into the chamber, Jan Martin, its president, said Wednesday.

Martin said the association, an outgrowth of the chamber, was created by the merchants to advertise their annual Sidewalk Days sales promotion, held every July, and their Merchants' Open House sales event every November.

The association was started by his grandfather, Norman Martin, and Carl Carbaugh, Martin said.

It saw itself as an arm of the chamber, Martin said. It had its own officers and bank account and used the chamber's services when needed.

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While it functions as an independent organization, it was never incorporated, Martin said in a letter to the association's 23 members. The letter invites them to a 7:30 a.m. meeting next Tuesday in the Antrim House Restaurant when they will vote on dismantling the association.

He said Wednesday that he spoke to many of the members. "They seem to agree that it's time to dissolve the association. That's why we decided to put it on a ballot," he said.

The number of volunteers who work on the promotions is dwindling. The same officers have been serving for years, Martin said.

"While we are honored to serve ... we feel it may be more efficient to allow the chamber to coordinate these events," Martin said in the letter.

Dana Given, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce, said that two years ago the Sidewalk Days promotion drew only about 25 vendors. Last year, the merchants association asked the chamber to take charge of the event. "We had about 80 vendors," Given said.

Martin said the merchants were happy with the results.

He said they believe Given actively promotes businesses in the downtown, one of the most vibrant downtowns in Franklin County.

Given said the merchants need to devote their energies to running their businesses while the chamber can take care of promoting them. Given and the chamber will take over the Sidewalk Days promotion and will incorporate the Merchants' Open House into the town's annual Heritage Christmas promotion.

"We have more time to do it," she said.

The chamber also plans to form a merchants committee led by Given.

Any funds remaining in association coffers after it is disbanded will be turned over to the chamber to be spent on advertising for the downtown businesses, Martin said.

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