STAUNTON, Va -- Ask Michael Organ why he wants the west end of Staunton to be a destination for people to do their shopping and he will jokingly tell you he wants some of that business for himself. There is a much less self serving reason behind it, though.
“I have been shopping in Staunton's west end for 35 years. And I believe in it,” said Organ. “I believe that everyone out there is just about as wonderful as they could possibly be, and they have great products.”
Products that few who head straight to the historic downtown stop to think about. More than 150 locally owned restaurants, grocery stores and companies with one of a kind offerings sit on West Beverley St. These are products that locals know shoppers would miss if they went straight to downtown.
“If you would allow them to come this far, and a little further out, they'll see things that they would say, 'Well I only see this on TV.' That would be great, but the city doesn't promote this area,” said Melvin Smith, a lifelong West End resident.
If you are heading into town from the west side, you are immediately greeted by signs directing you to the tourist attractions. That is something Organ, who remembers when the west end had a popular circus, would like to see changed.
“I would like to see signs up and down Beverley St that are in the shape of circus tents. Then under each circus tent would tell all the things that are within that block,” said Organ.
That is just one idea he will present to west end business owners at a rally he is organizing and Organ has already received positive reaction to it.
“Mike was here and we talked about it, but not that much. No details right now, but I think they idea is great, to help each other in this business,” said Willi Vogel, owner of Staunton business, German Masterworks.
The rally for businesses owners is set for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 27, at the Salvation Army on the city's west end. Business complex owners from out of the area have already expressed interest in helping the rejuvenation project along.
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