Updated August 4 at 5:04pm

Bristolians find charm still sells

By Patricia Daddona
PBN Staff Writer

Tropical Storm Irene left this small, coastal town feeling powerless two years ago in more ways than one. But a successful marketing campaign, Explore Bristol Rhode Island, has dramatically changed the outlook of some local officials and businesses for the better.

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Focus: TOURISM

Bristolians find charm still sells

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Tropical Storm Irene left this small, coastal town feeling powerless two years ago in more ways than one. But a successful marketing campaign, Explore Bristol Rhode Island, has dramatically changed the outlook of some local officials and businesses for the better.

About 30 downtown merchants in the town of nearly 23,000 lost power for the better part of a week, primarily on Hope, Bradford and State streets, following that late August storm, according to town leaders and Peggy Hicks, owner of the Bradford Street gift shop the Knotty Dog. Complaints grew as restoration lagged, they said.

“It was a dark storm and a dark time in Bristol,” Hicks recalled recently. “There were a lot of businesses closing at that time. We had lost five or six stores. People had said business had been good 10 years prior, but with the recession and for whatever reason, people weren’t coming downtown to shop and eat.”

Instead of giving in to the negative turn of events, however, residents and business owners began meeting and getting past the gripe sessions to a new level of awareness: that if anything was to change, it would take deliberate, constructive effort from within.

“The end result of all of this was lots of discussion, primarily by the merchants and the Town Council,” said Jeffrey Hirsh, owner of the Lobster Pot Restaurant on Hope Street.

Collaborating with the town and residents old and new, a local group launched a marketing campaign and website to pitch the seaside town’s assets – its harbor, museums, shops and bed-and-breakfast and lodging establishments – not with the intent of becoming a major tourist attraction, but to encourage sustained visits from within and elsewhere.

Located on Narragansett Bay and the Kickemuit River, the town is home to the Herreshoff Marine Museum/America’s Cup Hall of Fame, Colt State Park and the Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum. Charter fishing, kayaking, art and photography exhibits and weddings are among the more popular activities, according to www.explorebristolri.com.

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offthegrid

Yes, when you live in the HDC you have to spend thousands more for maintenance of your home so the small insignificant downtown businesses can scalp tourists. Since the State pulled back the 1% of the sales tax that used to go to the towns there is no financial benefit to the town.

The State also pulled back the small tax break for HDC maintenance costs. If a window costs $800 more to have the same custom wood frames etc the town or the other home owners which profit from the HDC (that's what the municode states.)should pay the extra costs.

Museums?

$7 million in tax free property supposedly 'owned' by the America's Cup Hall of Fame.

The America's Cup has never seen the inside of that place and when they have induction ceremonies it's at the New York Yacht Club in New York.

The biggest scam in Bristol other than the HDC.

BTW during Sandy National Grid got Stop & Shop & Metacom Ave running on day 1 them went elsewhere. It wasn't until the owner of the Lobster Pot spoke on WPRO and told it like it is that Grid came back to the area.

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