“It makes the town look better,” said Lawrence Bogue, president of the Hawkesbury Business Improvement Area (BIA). “Our idea is to make the downtown more attractive so that people will want to go out (shopping) on Main Street.”
The Hawkesbury BIA was first launched in 2016. Both Bogue and Corey Assaly, BIA treasurer, noted the concern then was finding a practical use for the small number of empty storefronts in the downtown core.
The BIA’s proposal was to provide at its own cost graphic art pieces, ranging from nature scenes to sports images, for the storefront windows of businesses that had closed down. Studio Lettrage provided some sample artwork and a mockup of what these store fronts would look like with the window graphics.
There was no response from commercial property owners to the proposal and the project was shelved. The Hawkesbury BIA revived the project in 2019 with new sample graphics to offer. In 2020 three building owners agreed to have graphics applied to the windows of their empty storefront premises.
The BIA has had mixed response so far to the Main Street storefront artwork. There have been further inquiries from other commercial landlords about installing graphics in their empty storefronts. But, Assaly noted, the project has inspired the owners of several businesses operating in the downtown.
“There are businesses now putting in their own graphics,” Assaly said. “You look now along Main Street and you see a lot of graphics. Main Street looks so much better.”
Both Bogue and Assaly emphasized that the BIA’s main goal is to encourage new tenants to occupy the empty storefronts in the downtown core. But Bogue noted that the group also wants to promote more interest among residents and visitors in coming downtown to browse and shop.