By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
WOODWARD, Oklahoma -- With the sluggish economy, small towns across the country are feeling the sting, instead of the spirit of the season. One of those struggling Main Streets is in Woodward, but the business community there is looking to the past and each other to keep things moving forward.
"Things were pretty good here until about March, and I really noticed the business dropping off," said Woodward business owner Sally Irvin.
Irvin moved back home to Woodward about three years ago and opened a furniture and lighting store along Main Street. Business was good until the economy took a downturn.
"At first it really didn't, the oil field was still good and cattle prices were still decent but probably by may there were a lot of people here that were out of work," Irvin said.
Kim Battershell moved back to Woodward too and opened a restaurant about one year ago, but it's a daily challenge to keep people coming in.
"Just trying to be financially smart, trying to keep some cash flow," said the restaurant owner.
While these two business owners and neighbors were constantly talking about the financial crisis, they didn't talk to each other, until recently.
"I have found a friend in Sally, a true friend," Battershell said.
"I was really struggling but so was she and whenever we started talking about it and kind of lifting each other up, it was a lot easier," Irvin said.
The Department of Tourism in Woodward is encouraging the struggling business owners to get out and meet each other and discover what's on Main Street so they can network and help each other.
"There's almost 80 businesses on Main Street and they're all independently owned which is kind of exciting," Battershell said.
Another thing business owners are doing is returning Main Street to the way it was during the holidays when these two women were young girls. Lights and decorations have gone up, trees line the sidewalks and for the first time in a long time the sense of community is back.
"If you can make a difference, maybe not a big difference, but a ripple in a pond, it can spread out from there," said Irvin.
The Department of Tourism also has free coffee on Fridays so the businesses can come together. They're holding concerts every weekend throughout the holiday season for everyone to enjoy.