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Street Talk

Signs, Colors Point The Way Downtown

By Susan Hart

Wayfinding is not just for visitors. Effective signage to and throughout your downtown helps guide tourists and residents alike to points of interest and your shopping district.

– December 2006 issue, Main Street News, published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.     

Wayfinding is a fancy way of saying “signs.” Signage is an invitation to drop by, visit, do business. A marquee or logotype is a permanent identification of the business. Banners, signs, and point of sale materials are the ever changing accents that keep customers and visitors interested. All these marketing strategies do more than increase sales, they also showcase the personality of Water Valley.

Our downtown merchants promote consistent seasonal change in themes and colors. Family Hairloom’s red white and blue flag in the window celebrates the Fourth of July, Veterans Day or Memorial Day. Maybe it simply reminds us of our freedom and patriotism. During the summer, other windows are painted with watermelons for miles during the annual carnival.

This holiday season, stores are popping with Christmas Cheer. The window at Williams’ Flowers and Gifts is glittering during the day and sparkling at night with beautiful decorations and merchandise. Each window dressing up and down Main Street is like a postcard; while the front side catches your interest, you can not wait to see what is on the other side.

A banner hangs in the window at Magnolia Home Furnishings, “Holiday Sale Event.” It is colorful and stands apart from the logos and signs around it. Hand lettered and custom made for the store by William “Bill” Warren, the banner is an invitation to come inside. Bill has years of experience in historic cities like Providence, Rhode Island and New Orleans. “I am very aware of how good signage can develop the aesthetic experience of community streets. One of the most unique aspects of Water Valley are its historic murals. As an artist, I have created murals for companies and communities.” And now  has also volunteered his expertise and time to design and letter the signs planned for the completion of the Better Back Street project in our historic city.

Wade’s Barber Shop has a new “hours of operation” sign in the window, done up nicely by Mr. Warren. If you are like Mr. Doolin, who, although an expert in high and tights, is not so much in points and fonts, give Bill a call, 473-0972. In the weeks to come, you will see more of Bill’s work around town. He has also created the caricature for Susie Shopper, seen in this column.

Mr. Warren isn’t the only one spreading Holiday Cheer along Main Street. Glenda Gordon has been painting windows in Water Valley for several years. She is busy now planning a season of business and residential decorating, and is taking calls for your downtown window as well. You may contact her at 473-2401 for details.

Thanks to all of you who made the 7th Annual Christmas Open House a success. Shopping locally encourages growth in our small town. Money spent here benefits every corner of Water Valley, “…where commerce happens and people come together. That’s our Main Street. Where businesses are challenged and innovation is happening,” Doug Loescher, Director, National Trust Main Street Center.

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