Seek the Unique and shop Downtown Bristol!

Bristol-Who knew you could support your local businesses from the luxury of your own couch? Don’t let that stop you from shopping in person in one of America’s most charming towns.

Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia has been named ShopOnMain’s most “Charming Town” in America and will now be featured in an upcoming episode of the TV series “Small Town, Big Deal.”  More than 100 cities were part of the competition with more than 20,000 votes cast.

Believe in Bristol Executive Director Christina Blevins is thrilled that Bristol is being recognized nationally.

“Shopping in downtown Bristol is truly blossoming, from antiques to clothing stores and art galleries and so much more, Bristol really has it going on.  Seek the unique!  Believe in Bristol thanks everyone for their support downtown, and we hope to continue with this type of success!  Congratulations downtown Bristol!”

Along with being featured on “Small Town, Big Deal,” Bristol also is featured prominently on ShopOnMain’s website, a new online shopping experience where you can discover local shops all over the country and support local communities.

Congratulate Bristol!


Register Now for the VMS Toolkit – September 15-16 in South Boston


Building a Resilient Nonprofit Together

September 15-16

South Boston, Virginia

Behind every exciting Main Street District beats the collective heart of volunteers, entrepreneurs and property owners working together to create an environment of invitation. Every day, residents and visitors are discovering what makes your Main Street their favorite, be it the shops, the food or the hospitality.

What is going on behind the curtain of your Main Street organization? Do ideas and agendas harmonize like a well-rehearsed chorus?  Do the inner workings of your nonprofit more closely resemble Pandora’s Box than a fine-tuned organ? How do you address these issues together?

Join your Virginia Main Street network of dedicated volunteers and professional managers in South Boston for two days of how-to’s and best practices to build a resilient and effective nonprofit organization. Your volunteer board, committee members and local officials are all invited for fun, networking and great ideas to make positive change in your downtown and enjoy doing it.

More information >> Agenda


How do you know if your event was a success?

Many Main Street organizations are planning major winter festivals and downtown shopping events. Although there is a festive feel in the air with these short days and cold weather, the lovely weather is not enough reason to plan and call on volunteers, sponsors, Main Street businesses and the public to hold a festival. There must be genuine and commonly understood goals and measurable benefits to the Main Street community for every event organized and executed by the Main Street organization. Is the event intended to drive customers to Main Street businesses? Is it to show off the Main Street district? Is it intended to raise funds for the Main Street organization?

With well-understood event goals, you will be able to ensure that your Main Street events continue to be a hit with the Main Street community by completing a post-event evaluation within a week of the event. The evaluation process will help identify the event’s strengths and weaknesses and will help to improve future events.

At a minimum, evaluate the following:

  1. Attendance: Who and how many attended? Estimate this using pedestrian counts, parking volume surveys, photo counts, exit surveys, ticket sales, etc.  
  2. Event executions attitudes: What did volunteers, attendees and businesses think about the event? Collect this information using formal or informal surveys or evaluations distributed to event participants and organizers. Review the event logistics to determine what worked and what didn’t work.
  3. Economic impact: Ask Main Street businesses what economic impact the event had on them. Was there an increase in sales or foot traffic over the same period last year? What was that one thing that they really liked about the event and would like to see continued? What would they like changed or added to the event next time?
  4. Sponsor value: What was the media value of the event to your sponsors? Evaluate the cost and benefit to your sponsors based on attendance and the buying power of the attending audience. Survey attendees to gauge sponsor awareness. Prepare final reports for sponsors including attendance numbers, attendee demographics, assessment of media value and photos showing sponsor visibility at the event.
  5.  Event Goals: Did the event meet its goals? Is it worth doing again?