Local commerce pushed in free parking, event
Charleston city officials and West Side Main Street representatives have two separate programs designed to encourage people to shop locally this holiday season.
Council members recently passed a measure authorizing free parking in the city on Saturdays during the Christmas shopping season, while West Side Main Street officials announced they will hold their first "Go West - Shop Local" event on Dec. 1.
Shoppers and other patrons of city businesses can park for free on any city-owned metered spot on Saturdays starting this week. The free parking will be offered every Saturday until Dec. 29.
Parking in every city garage, excluding the parking garage on Washington Street East that houses Park Place Stadium Cinemas, also will be free on Saturdays during the shopping season, City Manager David Molgaard said.
City leaders have opted to offer the free parking during the Christmas season every year since 2001.
"We do this to encourage people to come out and do their shopping in Charleston," Molgaard said. "We certainly hope people take advantage of this."
Free parking will be available at the parking garages on Summers Street near its intersection with Quarrier Street, on McFarland Street and next to City Hall.
The parking garages are open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturdays, said Parking Director George Jarrett.
The city will lose about $1,000 in revenue each Saturday, Molgaard said. However, the loss of revenue is well worth it to help city retailers and restaurants.
West Side Main Street is also making an attempt to attract shoppers to the city. The first "Go West - Shop Local" event will kick off at 11 a.m. and last until 3 p.m.
Special offers will be available at 13 businesses throughout the West Side, including Kelley's Men's Shop, Charleston Department Store and Fountain Hobby Center, Executive Director Stephanie Johnson said.
The Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority will provide a trolley for shoppers to ride free of charge.
Those wishing to catch the trolley should arrive at Winter Floral on Washington Street West between Pennsylvania Street and Tennessee Avenue by 11 a.m.
"We encourage people to park under the interstate on Washington Street West," Johnson said.
Santa Claus will not be riding his reindeer into town, but he will be catching a ride on the trolley.
The event will culminate near Kelley's Men's Shop with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the lot next to the business between 3 and 4 p.m.
Johnson is asking school children on the West Side to make decorations for the tree, she said.
Children may have their pictures taken with Santa for free, she said.
"This is a great opportunity for the community to come together to support local businesses and enjoy the season," Johnson said.
The event is also designed to illustrate the importance of shopping locally, she said. Dollars spent in local stores tend to stay in the community.
"We really hope the community comes out and supports the local businesses on the West Side," she said.