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Wednesday, 09 May 2012 20:56

All aboard! New trolleys to circuit shopping districts of Waynesville

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The same trolley that used to lead the New York Marathon and transport students at New York University from place to place has found a home in Waynesville.

Starting this Saturday, the diesel trolley will traverse downtown Waynesville, Frog Level and Hazelwood, shuttling passengers between the three shopping districts.

Waynesville resident Tandi Haas got the idea during a discussion of how to attract more visitors at a Downtown Waynesville Association meeting.

“When I saw a need, I was like, ‘Let’s do it,’” said Haas, who is also opening a new shop on Main Street.

Haas said her goal is to promote shopping in stores around town. For now, trolleys will make stops in public parking lots in each of the districts. Eventually, Haas said she hopes to stop at inns or bed and breakfasts to transport guests where they want to go. That way, they would not have to drive to downtown or Hazelwood and scour for a parking spot — a prize piece of real estate when second-home owners and vacationers flood into town.

Although only one trolley will hit the road this Saturday, Haas plans to have two trolleys making the rounds the following Saturday, May 19.

The trolleys can hold between 30 to 45 people and will stop in each community every 30 minutes. People can pay $5 and receive an armband, which will allow them to ride the trolley for the day.

The current stops include the public parking area in Frog Level, the parking deck near downtown Waynesville and the public lot near Bourbon Barrel Beef and Ale in Hazelwood. The trolleys will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every Saturday. However, depending on the feedback, the times could change.

“If it’s successful, I’ll extend it to Fridays,” Haas said.

Haas plans to sell merchandise related to the trolley, including mugs, T-shirts and sweatshirts. She is also selling advertising space on the trolleys and creating partnerships with businesses to publicize both Waynesville stores and the trolley.

“The whole goal is to make it a win-win,” Haas said.

Haas is currently renting two trolleys from The Trolley Company in Hendersonville but hopes to own her own trolleys one day. She has hired bus drivers with the Haywood County School system to drive the trolleys each weekend.

“We are just really thrilled,” said Eva Ritchey, owner of The Trolley Company. “If there is anything that does make it successful, it will be the energy and the vision of someone like Tandi Haas.”

Haas will use the former home of Ridge Runner Naturals as her base of operations. Later this year, the building will also be home to Haas’ store Apple Blossoms, which will sell upcycled items such as doors or windows, makeup and bath products.

“It’s perfect. I can advertise the trolley there,” Haas said.

Although some may be concerned about a pile up of traffic because of the trolleys, the vehicles went for a test run this past weekend, and Police Chief Bill Hollingsed said he did not hear any complaints. However, he plans to sit down with Haas to discuss where the most logical places to pick up passengers would be if Haas decides to expand her operations.

“We’ve got to find a happy mix there,” Hollingsed said. “We don’t want the trolley stopping on Main Street every block. Main Street has enough problems moving traffic.”

As of press time Tuesday, Haas had not yet applied for a business license. She said she thought she had already gotten one, but the town had no record of it. The process is quick and should be doable to get up and running by Saturday.

For a list of trolley stops and a schedule of pick-up times, check www.waynesvilletrolley.com or call 828.452.1860.

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