Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Planning a downtown street fair? Five ways to avoid undermining retail sales for local businesses

It is not uncommon to hear merchants complain about the singular annual event or street fair. These activities are common among many downtown organizations trying to promote visitation, and to be fair, thoughtful downtown events are important to successful revitalization efforts. But if you ask some business owners, they may not be having the intended effect. Consider the case of the local barber shop whose regular customers avoid the area during downtown events. Or a flower shop that can no longer make deliveries because the street is closed. How do you avoid some of these common errors? And how do you execute a great event that helps local businesses?  I've rounded up a few examples of common mistakes and potential solutions. Is your organization doing any of these things?
The challenge - the main corridor of the festival is packed with
people but the sidewalk side where the business entrances are is empty. 

A better solution - don't block storefronts. Use existing downtown open space
between two retail streets for the market. This way, the events
serve as a link between shopping areas and helps to extend the average customer length of stay. 
A better solution - if you've got a single loaded retail corridor,
place the farmers market stands across the street to
create a double loaded corridor.  This enhances the density of
downtown offerings and encourages cross-shopping. 
A better solution - Don't block access to the sidewalk and local
businesses. Notice the gaps between the vendor stalls that allow for ease of
access between the sidewalk and the main thoroughfare. 
The challenge: Make sure to site your market where the downtown action is.
You want to ensure your market is in close proximity to
your downtown businesses, otherwise the opportunities for
synergy and shared customers are lost. 

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