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Survey will evaluate downtown Penn Yan

PENN YAN—What about downtown Penn Yan? The Finger Lakes Economic Development Center is asking that question in a survey that has been designed for everyone from visitors to year round residents.
The one page document was developed after Economic Zone coordinator Ryan Hallings and Economic Development Center director Steve Griffin met with the business community and took a walking tour to determine what is in the downtown business district from the aspect of storefronts, finding 72 places where a business could operate. Griffin noted of those places there were about 12 vacancies. The Odd Fellows building on the east side of Main Street was on the list, but that will soon be occupied by Millie’s Kitchen. Griffin said, “The big picture shows a lot of non-merchandise stores downtown.”
Griffin said even when stores are open, they maintain different days and hours, making it hard for potential customers to know when they will be open. Of the stores downtown, only a couple are open after traditional business hours. Griffin said, “Every study we have looked at indicate there must be common business hours downtown.” Board member Jim Long agreed, commenting, “The thought that no one comes in late was proven wrong when we realized business picked up at my store on Saturdays just before the 5 p.m. closing time.” Long said he learned the store was picking up customers who had visited Windmill Farm and Craft Market then came downtown after market hours. Long emphasized the need for constancy, noting momentum would build if all retailers were open during the same hours. Griffin said he has heard the explanation “Tried it before” from some retailers. He said one small change that would help make the downtown area more appealing is keeping storefront lights on after closing time.
Griffin said a survey has been developed that questions what usually brings people to downtown and what is typically purchased. Also asked is the types of stores and businesses the respondent would like to see in the village as well as when they are most likely to shop downtown. Additional comments and suggestions will be sought. Griffin said the surveys will be placed in key stores and businesses so that when businesses are approached, “We have proof behind it.”
Current plans call for the survey to be distributed in lodgings and at other businesses such as Red Rooster restaurant. The surveys will be distributed on a quarterly basis in two week increments.
Although a good portion of the discussion focused on retail businesses, Griffin said, “We’re not saying there isn’t a place for non-merchants.” He suggested second floor properties would be a good choice for non-merchant businesses. Board member Susan Anderson said it is important to get businesses to accept new businesses into the community. Griffin said, “I think the health of Main Street will help draw people here.”
The center, formerly known as Yates County Industrial Development Agency, was rebranded Finger Lakes Economic Development Center earlier this year partly to more accurately reflect the work done by the agency.

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