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The Inter-Mountain survey reveals wealth of information

January 31, 2009
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer

We are frequently reminded of the ethical issues involved with journalists writing about their own arm of the media, their own newspaper or their own stories. We are discouraged from "tooting our own horn." You can be sure this next bit of information was reviewed before reaching the press. I'd like to let everyone involved in the local business community to know a little bit about the results of the recent shopping habits survey conducted by The Inter-Mountain.

At Tuesday's Downtown Merchants' meeting, the newspaper's general manager Don Smith gave a presentation showing a sample of what the survey revealed.

More than 800 people completed the survey, providing a broad scope of information on when, where, how and why people shop in Elkins and elsewhere. One of the revelations that caught my attention, and most everyone else's as well, was the days and hours that people shop. The survey results document this information and can even be broken out by different age groups.

There is a reason I mention this particular item. Over the past couple of years, I have repeatedly passed on to our readers the opinions of those who attend the Elkins Downtown Merchants' meetings. One of the most discussed topics has been the shopping hours kept by the downtown merchants. I don't have enough time or space here to go into details, but the revelations of the survey are something that every merchant in town, and those in the immediate surrounding area, should explore.

Up until now all the talk about adjusting shopping hours has been based mostly on speculation. The survey provides evidence of when people shop, the days they shop, where they shop and why they make those shopping decisions. The survey does not include information relative to the shopping preferences of those who come to Elkins as tourists. It is based on information provided by permanent residents in the newspaper's readership area.

Here's where the ethical question comes into play. For the immediate future, the newspaper is sharing the information with its advertisers and local merchant, business and civic groups. Fortunately, it will ultimately be placed on the newspaper's Web site - - for the public's use. While access is restricted at this point, the reality is that most merchants in the region have some kind of business relationship with The Inter-Mountain and, therefore, can get access to the survey.

Merchants who wish to mine the information contained in the survey may do so by contacting their advertising sales representative at The Inter-Mountain, by calling the advertising department or Smith at 304-636-2121.

Motorcycle enthusiasts who are looking forward to riding weather - right now I think everyone is wishing for its speedy return - and planning their trips will be happy to know that the Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau recently printed a brochure featuring five rides "In the Heart of West Virginia." These are not only challenging rides but ones that take you through the beautiful heartlands of West Virginia.

Jerry Pastine, who along with his wife, Joanne, planned the "Leaf Peeping Tour" last fall helped design the routes. His favorite is the "The Smokehole Blacksnake." This one takes the rider on a 147-mile, three-hour, 15-minute ride from Elkins to Seneca Rocks to Cabins or Petersburg to Upper Track to Franklin and then back to Elkins.

For a copy of the brochure, stop by the Randolph County CVB at 1302 N. Randolph Ave., or give them a call at 304-636-2780.

The annual Rotary Club of Elkins Fun Night dinner/dance will be at the National Guard Armory March 21 beginning at 6 p.m. and ending around 11 p.m. Tickets are $100 for singles or couples and include a buffet dinner available throughout the evening.

Each ticket holder is eligible to win one of the cash prizes, including one $1,000 award, four $250 awards and eight $100 prizes.

You must be at least 21 to attend. Dress is casual - South Sea Island attire.

Proceeds benefit Randolph County schools and libraries. Tickets are available from any Rotarian, at the Davis Trust Co. in downtown Elkins, the information desk at Citizens National Bank or at the Randolph County Senior Center.

At times, we become a bit discouraged by all the bad news we keep hearing about where our state ranks in the many national surveys. Every now and then, though, we get some good news. Ellen Spears, executive director of the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, is always looking for individuals to speak on interesting and informative subjects with members and others of the business community at the chamber's quarterly meetings. For the quarterly meeting coming up on March 11, she is considering a program on Business Partners in Education.

While she was talking about the upcoming meeting and a possible speaker, she mentioned that West Virginia is the only state in the nation that has the Business Partners in Education in every school in the state. We can all take pride in this accomplishment.

Briefly stated, the Business Partners in Education program links businesses and organizations with schools in relationships that enhance student learning and promote school improvement. In a partnership, a business adopts a school, or schools, and shares its human and material resources.Kudos to all those businesses that are working with our Randolph County schools.

The Randolph County Community Arts Center will host a benefit breakfast at Applebee's Feb. 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Breakfast includes three pancakes, sausage and a beverage.

Tickets are $5 each and are available at the RCCAC office or at the door on Saturday morning.

All proceeds benefit the Randolph County Community Arts Center programs. Come out and support our RCCAC and have a great breakfast, too.

Ed Griesel, president of the Elkins Downtown Merchants' Association, along with other members, have designed, printed and are distributing brochures promoting shopping in historic downtown Elkins at trade shows and to tour bus operators. Those that have received them are requesting more.

Griesel sent a copy to the West Virginia Division of Tourism for its review and has received permission to apply for a grant to mass-produce the brochure. Matching money is needed to receive the grant.

"So far, only two people have asked how much money is needed," Griesel said. "This is for the benefit of every merchant in town."

Here's one final reminder regarding the Legislative Breakfast coming up at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, at the Randolph County Community Arts Center.

The chamber's legislative committee has been working for several months constructing a set of policies for presentation to lawmakers that they believe will enhance the business environment of Randolph County.

This is an opportunity for Randolph County business owners and residents to discuss issues with their representatives in state government.

The policies, approved by the chamber's board of governors, include the cost of regulatory burden for business, education, mandatory paid sick leave, flexibility in workplace scheduling, health insurance, prevailing wages and personal property taxes for business.

All Elkins-Randolph County Chamber members are invited to attend free of charge. Non-members' cost is $5 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 304-636-2717 or by e-mailing



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