ASHEBORO, N.C. — The pandemic has put a pin in a lot of people’s plans.
One Triad city is not letting the coronavirus get in their way of making a comeback.
Asheboro was recently accepted into the state’s Main Street Program, which allows them to access funds and resources to revitalize the area.
But there are a lot of challenges, especially during a global pandemic.
While there might not be a lot of events with a lot of people for a while, leaders are planning for a better future.
“This year has definitely taught us to regroup and change how we do things,” said Tami Jobe.
Born and raised in Asheboro, she dreamed of opening her own store in downtown.
She launched “Blessed Boutique” just two and a half weeks before the pandemic shut everything down.
Thankfully, Jobe is back open.
“Being in a small town really helps, we’re very supportive of each other,” she said.
Jobe is looking forward to the changes that the two-month-old Main Street program will make.
The first ever “streatery” event in early November hit the mark for the local shops and restaurants.
“We probably doubled our Saturday [sales] on that one day,” she added.
It’s just the start.
Program director Rebekah McGee is now trying to get creative, knowing she can’t rely on events or mass gatherings to bring people downtown.
“We’ve been watching other cities, big cities, that have said, ‘hey, what can we do to help safely bring some of that business back to these local merchants,'” she said.
It’s a process.
“It’s not just day of sales, it’s long-term economic development,” said McGee. “What can we do to build this downtown as a whole long term?”
Her ideas include using the upper floors of retail spaces to make into residences, bringing people to live and enjoy the downtown area.
There’s also a possible grant program underway to renovate buildings in the area.
“Sometimes each street feels like a different district,” McGee said. “[We need] A more cohesive plan of what the downtown should look like.”
But it will take teamwork.
“Partnerships are everything. I can’t do everything by myself,” she said.
“[The Main s\Street program is] doing things that are going to benefit everybody, every kind of business that we have down here,” said Jobe.
They hope that by working together, they can bring back the charm and hustle and bustle to Asheboro’s city streets.
“I remember that downtown Asheboro was where you shopped. I saw the thriving downtown before it went to malls,” Jobe said. “I’ve seen a lot of that come back. I really hope to see that in the future.”