Building a Better Main Street in Historic Reisterstown

Signs of Progress: Improving Signage Along Main Street

As John Reister recognized more than 250 years ago, those commuting along Main Street provide extraordinary business opportunities.

This is all the more true today.  After all, in 1758, we didn't have an average of 17,775 cars travel along Main Street each and every day.  Assuming an average of 1.3 passengers per car, more than 23,000 people pass by Main Street merchants on a daily basis and more than 115,000 traverse the area in an average work week.  Allowing for thousands of additional consumers passing through on weekends, Main Street businesses are blessed with a valuable opportunity to attract prospective customers.

If someone were to offer you free billboard space along a main thoroughfare where you could advertise your business to thousands of prospective customers, would you pass up that opportunity?  Unfortunately, many Main Street merchants do. Poor signage along this well-traveled route squanders this opportunity. Many of these signs are dilapidated, unsightly and difficult to read. Many are temporary or portable signs with changeable letters and numbers, or vinyl banners which violate the County Code if displayed on a permanent basis.  Others are poorly placed, or fail to communicate the nature of the business to passers by.

Some Main Street merchants believe that they cannot afford better signs. But the opportunities lost to poor signage may be one reason why. Rather than promote business, poorly designed and maintained signs project a poor image of the merchants displaying them and do far more harm than good. Combined with poorly maintained exteriors and landscaping, they also detract from the character of Main Street and, as a result, harm all surrounding businesses.

At RIA, we recognize that while good signage is a smart business investment, it is not cheap.  That's why our Design Committee will assist Main Street businesses in designing effective signs and provide recommendations on sign vendors who will create durable, visible and effective signs at a discount.

In the weeks ahead, we will explore some signage “Do’s” and “Don’ts,” as well as certain requirements of the Baltimore County Code. If, in the meantime, you have questions as to how to improve your sign and your business, RIA’s Design Committee is here to help.