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Downtown Merchants launch Christmas advertising campaign

November 21, 2009
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer

Exploration of advertising and marketing ideas dominated the conversations at the Downtown Merchants Association, aka the Elkins Downtown Merchants Promotional Committee, meeting again on Tuesday. Everyone is exploring ways and means of advertising their products and services for the Christmas Season, and beyond, that will compete with the advertising campaigns - on a much smaller budget of course - launched by the big box stores this time of year.

After considerable discussion, the merchants approved a promotional program that they hope will encourage people to shop in Elkins on Dec. 5. According to Anne Beardslee, who proposed the program, "It is a low-cost way to get your name and business out and to do cooperative advertising. We hope you will consider joining us in this advertising campaign."

Participating merchants will contribute $20 to cover the cost of the prize and advertising. Each participating store will be listed in the newspaper promotion campaign. The participation form for merchants is being distributed by the EDMPC.

Customers who make purchases at the participating stores will be given a ticket making them eligible to win a $100 gift certificate. The gift certificate will be redeemable at any of the participating businesses. The winner will be notified on Dec. 7.

Merchants who wish to participate must return their invitation along with the $20 entry fee to Ceramics with Class no later than 4 p.m. Nov. 24.

Business owners who attended Tuesday's Downtown Merchants meeting reported several incidents of soliciting that were suspect or perhaps might have been outright fraud. I checked with officials in Mayor Duke Talbott's office and learned that anyone soliciting within the Elkins city limits must have a solicitor's permit.

Perhaps a word of caution might be prudent here. If you or your business is approached by a solicitor, ask them to present their solicitor's permit. If they don't have one, they are probably not legitimate.

Ed Griesel, defacto president of the Merchants Association, mentioned at Tuesday's meeting that the ON TRAC program is under way and needs volunteers.

"We need volunteers as committee chairpersons and to serve as members on all the various committees," Griesel said. "The program provides a wealth of expertise and assistance for the revitalization of the downtown area and expert advice on how to keep our community's economic base expanding and viable. If we can't get the volunteers to help with the program, it simply won't work."

Those who would like to help with the program should call Griesel at Ceramics with Class at 304-636-2903 or the Chamber of Commerce at 304-636-2717.

While I'm talking about Mr. Griesel, I'd like everyone to know that despite his advanced age, (he and dirt are the only two things in existence older than I am) he said he is "continuing to expand my cultural horizons in my 'golden years.'"

It seems he launched his quest to quench his cultural thirst by attending JoAnn Peterson's portrayal of Jenny Lind at the Randolph County Community Arts Center on Nov. 11. He was so impressed with her presentation that he has decided to attend another event in Wheeling - at the Victorian Theater. A slip of the tongue, however, as he was telling us about his upcoming trip, put him in Victoria's Secrets rather than the Victorian Theater. Old age does strange things to the mind.

Gary Schoonover mentioned at the merchants meeting that he has 1,123 square feet of space for rent or lease at Granny's Attic. When he first mentioned it, he said he had 1,000 square feet of space for rent or lease, then it jumped to 1,100 square feet, then another 23 square feet was added. By now, he may have an entire building for rent or lease. One can't help but wonder if Ruth Lynn, owner of the store, knows about it though.

Seriously, he does have space available and is looking for a tenant. If you're interested, contact him at Granny's Attic.

The New Tygart Flyer is offering a Thanksgiving Special on Nov. 28. The four-hour trip to Tygart Junction will depart the Elkins Railyard Depot at 11 a.m. Reservations may be made by calling toll free 877-686-7245.

Randolph County Commission President Mike Taylor reported at the merchants meeting that construction on the new building beside the courthouse annex is ahead of schedule. Construction, according to Taylor, should be finished about mid-December - about three months ahead of schedule. Those who will be housed in the new facility should start moving in soon after the work is completed.

A great many people, me included, have a tendency to believe that books written and published that deal exclusively with a certain family contain family information that is of interest only to the members of the family the book deals with. That can, and often does, prevent would be readers from learning more not only of the family's ancestry and descendents but also the history of the times of the book's setting. One such fine example is "The Charles Town, West Virginia, Confectioner - John Frederick Blessing, His Family, and His Descendents" by Richard G. Anderson.

As does most, if not all, genealogy books, this 52-page book on the history and family of John Frederick Blessing has some interesting historical and possibly little known facts regarding the family's connections to the history of Charles Town and its famous and infamous including John Brown's miniature Bible.

If the saying "A picture is worth a thousand words" is correct, then this little volume speaks a great deal. It contains 16 images of family members from infancy to old age. Studying the images reveals much about the physical anatomy and habits of the people in those days as well as their dress, hairstyles, even the architecture of post Civil War days in Charles Town.

It appears that the book was hastily written and leaves much to the wanting of more details of the family's history. Be that as it is, the author admitted as much when he wrote in the preface, " ... work still needs to be done in order to complete, if possible, a number of gaps in the family genealogy, and I would be pleased to hear from anyone who might be able to supply any of the missing information, including any updated information, or to correct any errors."

Anyone interested in not only the family genealogy, but other information about what businesses were established and by whom from about Civil War times until the mid-20th century of Charles Town, might want to pick up a copy of this little book. It is not an encyclopedia by any means, but it might supply a tidbit of information not available anywhere else.

The book is available at most retail bookstores, or may be ordered from McClain Printing in Parsons or online at

Many of you may have already read Nathaniel Philbrick's bestseller "Mayflower - A Story of Courage, Community and War," but for those who haven't there is no better time than now to do so. We learned about how Thanksgiving came to be during the early and formative years of our education. Over the years, scholars have proven that the first Thanksgiving was, in all probability, not exactly as we were taught way back then. Philbrick's book published by Viking is, in addition to being an entertaining read, one of great historical value as well. It is a great book. If Thanksgiving means more than a day of football and merrymaking, you'll enjoy it.

Sue and I wish everyone a happy (and safe) Thanksgiving. I hope the year has brought you, if not to total realization of your dreams and goals, nearly so anyway. I am thankful for the opportunity to come into your home each week through this media. I hope what I have written has been of benefit to you if only in some small way. As Red Skelton always said at the end of his wonderful shows, "may God bless" each of you.



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