AIKEN --- Mike Enloe is using stickers, T-shirts and a popular social networking site to protest the two-hour parking limit in downtown Aiken.
The owner of Plum Pudding, a gourmet kitchen store, said he has passed out 60 "Aiken Free Parking" stickers to business owners who agree with him. As of Sunday afternoon, close to 356 people had become fans of the Facebook page "End Parking Restrictions in Downtown Aiken Now!" Mr. Enloe created the page Wednesday.
"The economy is not what it was two years ago. We need as many customers as we can get," he said. "Aiken's a destination point, and we have people from Augusta who shop and eat lunch downtown. They take longer than two hours."
In 2007 the Aiken Downtown Development Association proposed enforcing a two-hour parking limit to free up parking spaces, Assistant City Manager Richard Pearce said. The city council accepted the recommendation that year. In March 2008, the Aiken Department of Public Safety began writing citations.
"There are viewpoints on either side," Mr. Pearce said. "Many people didn't want folks parking in front of their businesses, and others are on the side of these business owners."
Barbara Brodie, the owner of Barbara Sue Brodie Needleworks, said she protested the proposal when the ADDA presented it. Her clients take sewing classes at her business on Hayne Avenue for as long as three hours, she said. Many have to move their cars in the middle of class to avoid tickets.
"We want them to come to class, go to the gift shops, go to lunch. We want them to enjoy themselves," she said. "We don't want them worrying about getting a ticket."
Mr. Enloe said the recent lifting of the restriction during the Christmas holiday prompted him to seek support for his mission.
"It's not December that we need help. It's the other 11 months that are really breaking us," he said. "We're not asking for a bailout. We're asking that they lift these silly restrictions."
This weekend he will begin selling T-shirts imprinted with the sticker's logo for $15. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Children's Place.
Mr. Enloe said he plans to ask other business owners to voice their concerns at council meetings. Mr. Pearce said no items related to the parking limits are on the Jan. 25 council agenda.
"We want to invite our city council members and the mayor to shop and eat downtown," Mr. Enloe said. "If they really came down here to enjoy downtown, they would see our concern."
Reach Stephanie Toone at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or firstname.lastname@example.org.