UNION BRIDGE — Business owners say they often hear "Where is this town?" and "What's here?"
A budding business association met Wednesday to develop strategies for answering those queries and for attracting and keeping customers here.
"We are such a small town, people often drive through and don't notice us," said Nancy Carr, owner of Nancy's Place, a beauty parlor. "I get most of my business from word of mouth."
Town Council president and mayoral candidate Perry L. Jones Jr. told about 20 people attending the preliminary session at the Community Center that the townhas 51 businesses and services to offer residents.
"If residents knew all that's available here, they wouldn't be leaving town to do their shopping," he said. "We have to get the word out so they do their buying here."
He also said area business people should pitch their services to developers, who soon could be building 500 homes on the Phillips property north of town.
"Why should builders go to Baltimore for kitchen cabinets, when we have a cabinet company here?" he said.
Jones, who owns Tuck's Chevron at the north end of town, said newcomers are an untapped market. People often stop in his station to ask for directions or information or just wondering where they canget a good sandwich.
"If I charged people for every question, I would be a rich man," he said. "Sometimes all they see are the railroad tracks and a service station. There's a lot more."
The group decided to produce a pamphlet, detailing what services are available locally. Each business would write its own brief history, location, function and hours of operation.
"We want to make ourselves known to everyone and promote our products," said John Parkinson, who recently opened a woodworking shop and called himself the new kid in town. "Our objective should be to make our names familiar."
Debbie Yingling, owner of Yingling's Market on Main Street, called the pamphlets a great idea.
"I can't keep brochures from EnterTRAINment in the store," she said. "Everyone who stops in wants information on the train lines."
Kathleen D. Kreimer, owner of Esquire Liquors, said the pamphlets should include a map, marked with each business.
Her husband, Joseph H. Kreimer, a contractor, said the maps also should show points of interest.
"We could tell something about our history and the older homes here," he said. "If we get people walking around town,it will encourage business."
Kreimer suggested contacting neighboring towns to see how their business associations operate before the next meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. April 17 at the Community Center.