DAYTON — More than a dozen Dayton business owners attended a meeting Thursday to talk about the future of the town’s businesses.
The event, held in Town Council chambers, was organized by Angela Lawrence, the town superintendent, who said there are over 35 restaurants and retailers in Dayton.
“My focus in the long run is not just on retail and small businesses — although that’s a really important part of Dayton,” Lawrence said. “But also to make sure that we are situated so that we can bring in new companies, when it’s appropriate, and build employment opportunities and the tax base.”
The town aims to support workers, business owners and quality of life, because those factors influence each other, she said.
Lawrence had the crowd list out some things that are going well for Dayton businesses, as well as some things that could be improved.
Some of the positive elements the business owners mentioned were abundant parking, the beauty of the area and events such as the annual Dayton Days.
Held last Saturday, this year’s Dayton Days attracted an estimated 40,000 to 44,000 visitors, according to Mike Betts, the marketing and events coordinator.
Business owners said the influx of visitors helped that day.
Some Dayton shops are not located downtown, where the event is held, but off of Va. 42 at the Dayton Market. This year, the town ran a shuttle to the Dayton Market, easing access for visitors, and market vendors said it was a successful day for them.
One of the concerns raised was about engaging local residents.
“It’s really hard to get locals,” said Jody Meyerhoeffer, owner of Triangle Emporium Antiques and Books. “Most of my paying customers are from out of town.”
Those in attendance agreed, saying many shoppers come from Massanutten Resort.
Increased signage on Va. 42 directing traffic to town is another area of improvement, the business owners agreed.
Lawrence said the town had received part of the funding needed for improved signage, but the rest of the money was not budgeted for this year.
Another concern the crowd broached was the lack of communication between businesses.
After the meeting, Lawrence said the town will create a new Facebook page specifically to better inform the public about Dayton businesses and what they can offer shoppers.
The audience was also in support of holding another meeting in the future, though a date was not set.
In the meantime, Lawrence said she will be sending the notes from the meeting to all Dayton entrepreneurs to encourage greater attendance and communication for the next gathering.
“We’re all in Dayton whether we’re on Main Street, the farmers market or on the north end of town,” said Jean Halbeisen, owner of Nanny’s Nook at 221 Main St.