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Survey eyes how well businesses in Middlebury meet local needs

MIDDLEBURY — The Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) is circulating a marketing survey to get a sense from local shoppers and merchants about how the town could improve its retail, parking, restaurant and housing amenities.
The 17-question survey is based on a similar questionnaire that the University of Vermont administered in the town of Newport a few years ago. Respondents are asked to weigh in on a series of topics, including:
•  What additional businesses would you like to see in Middlebury? Respondents can select from a list that includes night clubs, fast food restaurants, dentists, laundry service, day care centers, tailors, physicians, art dealers, department stores, grocers, men’s clothing, pets and supplies, liquor, butcher, night club and furniture.
•  How would you rate Middlebury businesses in such categories as cleanliness, parking, traffic flow, shopping hours and price of goods/services?
•  Name three specific businesses you would like to see come to downtown Middlebury.
•  What types of housing would you like to see added downtown?
•  What do you like best about Middlebury?
Respondents are also asked what specific stores draw them to other communities; where they most frequently shop; what attributes they are looking for in a store; and whether they are a local resident, nearby resident, tourist or student.
“I think it will enlightening and helpful,” BMP President Donna Donahue said of the results, which she anticipates will be collected and collated by this coming February.
Along with shedding light on consumers’ shopping wants and needs, Donahue said the survey could produce a comprehensive inventory of local businesses and provided guidance to people seeking to fill vacant storefronts in town. Those vacancies include the former Blue Moon space at 46 Main St. and Lazarus Building at 20 Main St. (at the entrance to Printer’s Alley).
Donahue stressed the survey is intended to cover all of Middlebury, not just the downtown.
Surveys are currently available at the National Bank of Middlebury’s Main Street headquarters, where they can be picked up and returned. Plans call for more copies to be distributed at other locations, including the Lodge and Eastview retirement communities and Middlebury College.
“We want to get a broad demographic,” Donahue said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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