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Platte City merchants:
'We have a Main Street'

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

A visit to Platte City Antiques on Main Street will probably end with the manager, Larry Burrichter, offering directions to other area antique stores such as the Blue Rooster on Highway 92 or the Platte City River Shoppe on 2nd Street.

Unfortunately for Burrichter, there aren’t enough visitors lately, and that is leaving him and other area merchants extremely frustrated and upset.

“I try and tell everyone who leaves here that there are three other malls in town and I’d put them up against what they’re selling down in Kansas City,” Burrichter said. “I hope they’re doing the same... it all helps.”

Burrichter said the feedback he receives from his customers is getting harder and harder to appreciate as a rent-paying merchant on what it is supposed to be the heart of town.

“I’ve got too many people coming in (after visiting) the Blue Rooster telling me they had no idea we were down here,” Burrichter lamented. “One person told me ‘I’ve been driving on Highway 92 for 11-years and I didn’t know this town even had a Main Street.’ When you have people talking like that, there is something wrong with the town.”

Burrichter, and many others on Main Street, feel Platte City has insufficient signage for downtown merchants.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation, nearly 11,000 travellers use Highway 92 on any given day. As anyone who works on or near Main Street can attest to, however, a decidedly smaller amount of travellers drive on Main Street, despite its access to I-29.

“If that number is true (11,000/per day) then they’re missing our sign,” Burrichter said, referring to the business district sign located on Highway 92. “They (visitors) don’t even know we’re up here.”

Ed “Ziggy” Zygmontowicz, co-owner of The Platte River Shoppe, said he is becoming accustomed to hearing the same things.

“I have coffee every morning at Casey’s (General Store on Highway 92) and if anything’s going on, or if there’s a holiday, people are asking ‘where’s the courthouse?’ Nobody ever knows where Main Street is. The exit sign on I-29 (exit 19) doesn’t say Main Street, it only says Highway HH.”

Burrichter said that merchants have contacted MoDOT about expanding signage on I-29 and Highway 92, but so far have had a rough go of it.

“They basically told me if you’re not a restaurant, if you don’t board people or sell them gasoline... forget it,” Burrichter said, adding that he doesn’t feel such a system is fair.

When contacted by The Landmark, a spokesperson for the department said staff would research signage requirements and possibilities that may exist for Platte City merchants. As of press time, such information was not made available.

Karen Wagoner, Platte City Chamber of Commerce director, said she has approached MoDOT in the past in regards to the signage as well.

“I spoke with MoDOT about adding signs at Hwy. 92 and Marshall Road and Fourth Street that pointed to dining, shopping and the historic courthouse,” Wagoner said, adding that the chamber was trying to ascertain exactly what the city could and could not do in terms of adding signage.

“I do know that they’ve gotten similiar requests and have gotten really leniant in Independence and North Kansas City,” Weggoner said. “The chamber just can’t afford to do this on their own. We need help from the city.”

She said she approached city administrator Keith Moody nearly four months ago in regards to the issue but said that for a few discussions, the city administrator hasn’t followed up with her.

Moody, who was out of the office on vacation at the time of this writing, was unable to be reached for comment. Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks, while attending a meeting of the Platte City Area Development Association, said that while the matter was largely one that needed to be handled by MODOT, the city aldermen would help in any way they could.

“This isn’t a contentious issue,” Wagoner said. “It doesn’t matter to me who gets this done, but we do need to get this done.”