DDRA presents check to Darlington Mercantile and Confectionary Co.
By Stephan Drew, Editor
In Darlington, there’s a lot of construction going on. New businesses are opening and many older businesses are remodeling or making other improvements around the city. And, the Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association is helping these business owners realize their dreams.
On Wednesday, Sept. 7, the DDRA recognized George Stoddard, owner of the new Darlington Mercantile and Confectionary Co., with a $1,000 check through their Incentive Improvement Grant Program.
Mayor Curtis Boyd, DDRA Board President Rev. Rags Coxe, Executive Director Lisa Bailey and Robert Kilgo, Deputy Director of Darlington County Economic Development thanked Stoddard for his efforts to open his business in Downtown Darlington.
Boyd said, “I’m in the fitness business but I’ve always wanted us to have an ice cream shop on the square. You can come downtown shopping or pay a bill and pick up some ice cream while you’re here.”
The atmosphere inside the shop is like an old country store. Hardwood floors, antique “dry goods” items and ceiling fans remind us of a bygone era. But, the eye is immediately drawn to the big ice cream cooler, filled with a variety of flavors for any connoisseur of the frozen treat.
Stoddard thanked everyone for coming out and said, “I really appreciate everything everyone has done to make this happen.” He went on to say how he wants his business to be family-friendly with, as he put it, “a place for kids to come have fun.”
Since the grant program’s inception in 2016, the DDRA has awarded more than $16,000 in grants to 18 businesses connected to more than $200,000 in renovation work, not counting the domino effect of neighboring property owners cleaning up and painting.
The DDRA provides up to 50% of the cost of removing or installing an approved sign and will provide up to 50% of the cost of exterior painting up to a maximum of $1,000. This includes replacement of wall signage with projecting signage, replacement of several advertising signs at one location with a single advertising sign, signs designed by a sign professional, replacement of worn, weathered, discolored, or outdated signs and awnings, repainting of exterior buildings which show paint chipping, and replacement or installation of awnings.
Bailey spoke of a family who had recently painted the entire outside of a building on the square. She said they sparked interest when they “painted all the detailed trim and everything.” Bailey admitted that it has kindled a new appreciation in the look of their business by store owners. Bailey said, “People see how good it looks and say, ‘Maybe I need to update my building.’”
Businesses should work with a sign company or other professional to design a sign, contact the city to ensure it fits the commercial appearance guidelines, and then apply for this incentive through the DDRA. Once an application has been approved, businesses will receive a letter of acceptance and can proceed with the installation. Turn in the paid receipt, and the DDRA will reimburse the approved applicant for 50% of the cost up to $1,000.
For more information on the Incentive Improvement Program or to submit an application form, please contact Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association Director Lisa Bailey in person at 400 Pearl St., Darlington, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Darlington, SC 29540.