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Downtown Beaufort businesses off Bay Street may get more customers after a decision Wednesday from the Beaufort Historic District Review Board.'
The board unanimously approved a proposal from Main Street Beaufort, USA to hang banners in 10 spots on Bay, Charles, Port Republic, Carteret and Craven streets, encouraging shoppers to wander beyond the traditional Bay Street shopping area. '
The banners, which will read "Discover more ... arts, food, shops, lodging, antiques," are an effort to boost pedestrian traffic into off-Bay Street businesses, Main Street director Jill Bratland said. They will hang side-by-side with artistic banners that read "Beaufort, founded 1711." The banners will match, each in a blue, green, pink and white theme.'
"It will have a positive impact on businesses off of Bay Street," Bratland said. "When people are walking down Bay Street ... there's nothing there down the street to draw them. There's the perception that this is not a retail district."'
Lisa Hesse, who owns 221 Antiques and Coffee Emporium on Scott Street, said her business has had that problem.'
"We observed pedestrians walking down Bay and not even turning their heads to walk down a side street," she said. "We want them to realize they can walk the entire historic district.'
"Once they turn their head, they'll also see the banners on our street," Hesse said. "It's positive for all the business to have some unity in signage. It will create a far more pedestrian-friendly atmosphere."'
Beaufort Planning Director Libby Anderson told historic review board members the banners are a good idea.'
"The (city) staff thinks this is a good solution to a problem we've been wrestling with for a number of years," she said.'
The banners will hopefully be decorating Beaufort streets by August, Bratland said.'
Hesse said the banners are an inexpensive way to greatly improve business.'
"We really want to increase the traffic flow from Craven (street) to Bay (street)," she said. "One sale from the increased traffic flow would pay for this banner."