Albion Merchants have a new president

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 January 2016 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – Adam Johnson owns a building with three storefronts in downtown Albion, 39-41-43 North Main St.

ALBION – The new president of the Albion Merchants Association believes downtown Albion can again be a thriving business district.

Adam Johnson said there is already a good nucleus of businesses, but he said many of the merchants are struggling and the historic buildings are costly to properly maintain.

He urged the community to support the merchants in downtown. There are a variety of shops, and several new ones have recently opened.

“Hopefully we can get people to open their eyes and take notice,” Johnson said. “The potential is there, people have just been conditioned to look past it.”

Johnson, owner of Blue Top Management, owns about a dozen properties, including a mobile home park near Syracuse. He bought the building in downtown Albion last year. He has sat on a bench outside the building and observed there is a lot of traffic on Main Street, but not too many cars pull over and stop in downtown.

Johnson said local officials and businesses should work on branding the community with stepped up marketing efforts. He thinks the artistic nature of many of the businesses, with hand-made crafts, clothes and other products, could be part of the Albion brand.

The community also has a wealth of stained-glass windows and other artistic features – even the ornate doors on many of the historic buildings. He said the architecture of the buildings from the 1800s is an asset and should be better highlighted as an attribute for the downtown.

“We really have a lot of appeal,” he said.

The challenge is to make local residents and visitors aware of the downtown strengths and the merchants.

Johnson wants to engage the community and local officials to build a stronger downtown. He tried last year to get the Albion Village Board to pursue a Main Street grant that offers matching funds for downtown buildings owners. The board didn’t pursue the grant last year, but Johnson is hopeful the board will try this year.

Medina was awarded a Main Street grant last month. Holley also used a Main Street grant to improve its downtown, with the transformation of the former Tagg’s Tavern into a restaurant and bar the biggest project. Other buildings were painted, and received new awnings and windows.

Albion received a Main Street grant about four years ago. Johnson said there are many buildings in the downtown that would benefit from the grant.

Johnson was elected president of the Albion Merchants Association on Tuesday by the group’s members. He succeeds Carolyn Ricker, owner of Bindings Bookstore. Other officers for 2016 include: Paula Brooks, vice president; Lisa Stratton, treasurer; and Sarah Brigham, secretary.