As a Main Street organization, gaining the confidence and support of your local merchants isn’t easy, especially when it comes to downtown events. Closing the street can impede the access of loyal customers to their favorite shops. Hoards of event guests asking to use the shop’s bathroom can frustrate owners. It can add up to strained relations with the local Main Street program.
However, downtown events play an important part in showing off all your town has to offer by attracting thousands of people, all of them potential shoppers. The opportunity for downtown merchants to generate extra income is greatly increased, so a local Main Street program can’t afford to lose the merchants’ engagement. However, these constituents require an extra-special, pro-active approach.
New Jersey’s Main Street Vineland has done just that with a helpful “how-to” publication for merchants, Making Your Register Heat Up During Downtown Festivities this Summer. It includes before, during and after-event tips. For Main Street Vineland, this approach has secured the cooperation of local merchants, stimulated the opening of shops during the event, and brought visitors back to town at a later date to make a purchase. You can get the tips through Main Street Vineland’s website or via the National Trust Main Street Center’s online resources.
Similarly, through a discussion group at the recent Virginia Main Street Summer Toolkit: Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Downtown in Franklin, VA, we discussed working with local merchants. The discussion notes and helpful recommendations are posted on the Virginia Main Street training archive website.
Use your Main Street network to your advantage and see what brilliant ideas you can borrow for your own program.