Cooperstown Merchants Get Promotional Tool
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – In a unanimous vote, Village Trustees voted to once again allow sandwich boards on Main Street during a special meeting earlier this evening.
“I was a survivor of the sandwich board wars years ago,” said Village Trustee Ellen Tillapaugh. “So much of it was jockeying for space. But this law is better, and it’s important that, in our short season, businesses be able to get as many customers in the door as possible.”
In June, a law allowing sandwich boards was struck down by the board, but merchants spoke up, sending letters and appearing at public hearings.
“When I visit other towns, sandwich boards catch my eye and that’s what draws my attention to a business,” said Jeannine Webster, co-owner of Alex & Ika’s. “And where our business is situated, down an alley, it would really help attract customers.”
“Historically, the sandwich board has been used since the 1200s in Sandwich, England,” said Gene Marra, owner of Cooperstown Distillery and the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange. “As old as the idea is, it’s still functional.”
“If a sandwich board helps Vinny sell one more hotdog, I’m all for it,” said resident Chip Northrup.
Still, there were dissenters. “This time of year, there are thousands of people crowding our sidewalks,” said resident Roger MacMillan. “Cooperstown isn’t like Saratoga, with sidewalks so big you could drive a truck down them and not hit anyone.”
Under the new law, sandwich boards must be less than 24 by 42 inches and no more than 12 inches from the building, leaving at least 60 inches of space for pedestrians, citing ADA compliance. All business owners who want to have a sandwich board must apply for a permit, and the boards can only be wood or metal.
But the regulations might be a problem for businesses on Pioneer Street, such as Toys of Fame. “Our sidewalks are only 48 inches wide,” said owner Eric Olson.
Trustee Cindy Falk said that he and other business owners could apply for a variance.
Following the vote, Mayor Jeff Katz encouraged the business owners to get a copy of the law and apply for their permits. “Adhere to the law,” he said. “We want to help businesses while keeping people safe.”