By Collin Brooks
Writings on a temporary wall seemed to bring smiles to downtown patrons over the past couple of weeks. And while that “wall” has been taken down — replaced by a new window — the owners of the Johnson City Brewing Company Tap Room hope that the smiles will always come back.
A broken window at their location at the corner of Main St. and South Roan St. in downtown Johnson City, turned into a bright situation when they put a large whiteboard and markers on the piece of plywood that kept their business secure. The board has been removed, but the words will live on forever as owners Kat Latham and her husband Eric Latham plan on putting a polyurethane coating on the board so the marker won’t erase. Then it will hang in their new distribution plant at the Old Rafter nightclub in downtown Johnson City.
The nice messages and out \pouring of support helped turn a bad situation into a good one, according to Kat Latham.
“I think the perception of downtown is that it isn’t the safest place to be…and we didn’t want to be one more story that would fuel that fire,” she said. “There is nothing that we could do about that, it doesn’t mean that downtown is a bad place or that there are bad people, it just is what it is. We just really wanted people to focus on what could we do to make this a more attractive piece of plywood?”
Seeing that people made special trips, just to have an opportunity to put a message on the board — many with the #DowntownStrong — showed Latham just how much support was in the community.
“There are a lot of people out there that love downtown and they wanted to let us know what they love about downtown. I was just really touched that people made the effort to come out just to specially write on the board.
“There were a lot of people that sent us really lovely messages to let us know they were thinking about us and that they were sorry that it happened. But they also wanted to let us know that they were excited about the direction downtown is heading.”
Kat Latham serves on the Downtown Merchants Association and said that a new campaign of Downtown Strong has come from the incident. Shirts will be made with that mantra on them and will be sold inside the Johnson City Brewing Taproom and proceeds will be going to the downtown merchants association. Those funds will go to help downtown businesses for unexpected costs, like a broken window.