In a move to boost Pittsburgh’s struggling retail corridor, the Ravenstahl administration has redesigned city parking tickets to include the reminder, “Don’t Forget To Shop Downtown.”
“This is an innovative way to get the word out about the fantastic shopping, dining and other amenities our city has to offer,” said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
The new ticket design includes the mayor’s photo and a the promotional slogan directly below the spot informing motorists of fines ranging from $16 for an expired meter to $100 for parking in a tow-away zone.
Faced with stiff competition from suburban malls, shopping centers and even online merchants, the city has been casting about for an effective, but low-cost way of reaching potential shoppers. The idea of using the empty space on city parking citations was a parting gift from ousted mayoral aide Marlene Cassidy, who said she hoped the mayor would use it during the election season “and for a long time after that.”
Ravenstahl’s new advisers enthusiastically embraced the idea. “These people are already Downtown anyway,” the mayor said. “So we know they want to come down here. And we give out thousands of these things every day, so why not include a message encouraging them to come back?”
The city also has proposed that various Downtown merchants could get individual advertising messages onto the tickets, or even sponsor a class of violation for a nominal fee, but to date response has been slow.
Mayor Ravenstahl said he has instructed the city’s parking authority to increase its regular printing of tickets in anticipation of a heavy retail advertising push by meter attendants throughout the city.
“Our goal is to get one of these on every car in the city by year’s end,” the mayor said. “We want to make sure these people know that we want them to shop Downtown.”