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Charleston mayor looking to help businesses during pandemic

Mayor John Tecklenburg toured downtown businesses along King Street on Friday to see how shops...
Mayor John Tecklenburg toured downtown businesses along King Street on Friday to see how shops are handling the coronavirus and to see what suggestions owners may have.(Live 5 News)
Updated: Jul. 18, 2020 at 10:21 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Mayor John Tecklenburg toured downtown businesses along King Street on Friday to see how shops are handling the coronavirus and to see what suggestions owners may have.

“What this is about is connecting with business owners up and down King Street and talking about the issues that responsibly need some improvement,” Tecklenburg said. “City council, this past Tuesday, formed what we call the Central Business District Improvement Commission.”

The commission will look into everything from policing, to trash pickup, to signage.

Tecklenburg said the commission is supposed to look outside the box to find new ways to attack problems.

The coronavirus and all of the fallout surrounding the disease has hurt businesses everywhere which is part of the why the mayor is garnering fresh ideas directly from businesses.

“We want to do everything we can to make the CBD nicer and better,” Tecklenburg said.

One of the businesses the mayor popped into was Billy Reid – a modern designer men and women’s clothing store.

“We haven’t received a visit like this before,” said store director Kirsten Whitman. “I think there’s a lot going on right now so to see him down here, on foot and kind of make the rounds is really nice.”

The store saw a noticeable dip in traffic as the pandemic swept across the country and now they are still trying to rebuild to full capacity.

“I think it’s a weird time for hospitality, food and bev, and retail right now. You kind of don’t know what to expect, so being able to bounce some ideas around with people in charge is kind of nice,” Whitman said.

One of the ideas Whitman pitched to the mayor is something similar to Second Sunday on King Street – a monthly event where businesses occupy the street to sell their wares.

“It would be tough with big gatherings, but if retailers would be allowed to put racks outside every day or every other day so people feel a little bit safer,” Whitman said, noting how COVID-19 has forced her shop to only allow in five people at a time. “I’m really curious to see what other businesses have pitched.”

Tecklenburg floated the idea of making King Street one lane and expanding sidewalk space.

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