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Friday, February 20, 2009

Advertising Sign Ban Suspension Wins Merchants’ Praise

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By Dave Matlow

Westport’s decision to suspend enforcement of a ban on standalone advertising signs outside businesses to help them in the difficult economy won praise today from at least two merchants. They said their newly placed signs brought them customers almost immediately.WestportNow.com Image
Westport Wash & Wax at 791 Post Road East reported more business as soon as their sign went up. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“It’s great the town is working with local merchants,” said CraigTiefenthaler, co-owner of Westport Wash & Wax at 791 Post Road East.

“We put it out there the moment we heard of the new regulation. Within 10 minutes we got a customer who said he pulled in for a wash because of the sign and the discount price.”

At Mansion Clam House, 541 Riverside Ave., co-owner Sue Myers said the restaurant, which had put out a sign illegally earlier and removed it at the town’s request, said, “Without a doubt the street sign helps business. We get 20 to 30 percent more walk-ins when the sign is out.”

First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff requested the Planning & Zoning Commission suspend the sign ban enforcement two weeks ago and the commission agreed at its next meeting to a suspension until Oct. 1.WestportNow.com Image
Business at the Mansion Clam House is up 20 to 30 percent when their sign is out. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“While it may seem like a small gesture, I hope it’s symbolic of ways town government can assist small businesses in these very difficult times,” Joseloff said in a statement following the P&Z action.

Myers said the Mansion Clam House sign is free advertising. “It’s a lot cheaper than paying for newspaper ads,” she said, adding that “in general business is down very much, not just moderately.”

She said when the evaluation period is up she hopes the town will make a decision to suspend the regulation permanently.

It is an issue of fairness, said Myers, adding, “Isn’t real estate breaking the law by hanging signs outside of houses for sale?”

Posted 02/20/09 at 10:27 PM

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