Last week offered a much needed victory for downtown businesses. Between the Dessert Stroll and the Cotee River Cruise-In, hundreds of folks spent their weekend walking downtown NPR. For many, it was their first opportunity to attend a downtown event in nearly a year. For those returning to downtown NPR for the first time in years, they were stunned by the transformation.
Foot Traffic is Key for a Walkable City
“Foot traffic is exactly what we need, and events are the way to get it,” states Lisa Langford, owner of Lis’s Pieces. “Once people have a chance to walk downtown, they get the appeal and they keep coming back.” The lack of events has undoubtedly hurt the downtown businesses. Movies and concerts in Sims Park were a regular driver of foot traffic. Over the past 11 months, businesses found other ways to attract patrons, but it wasn’t the same. “My entire business plan was based around events,” explains Jon Beebe, owner of Heros Downtown Subs and Salads. “We’ve had to retool it entirely. We’ve done alright, but the Dessert Stroll reminded us that we had the right idea originally. More than a hundred people walking downtown and checking out our businesses – I wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
Days later, the Cotee River Cruise-In came to town. Dozens of vintage Volkswagens, supped up muscle cars, and custom cycles brought vibrancy to Stonehaven at Main Street and the downtown as a whole. For the first-floor businesses of 5500 Main Street, it was a day of unparalleled success. “We crushed it,” says Kevin Walkup, co-owner of the Butcher’s Block, as he succinctly describes the effect of the Cruise-In. “It was our best sales day so far,” says Jose Villao, co-owner of the Main Street Bakery. “We’ve only been open a few months at this point, but that was a huge day for us. We can’t wait for the next one.”
2nd Annual Downtown Dessert Stroll
Over 200 tickets were sold for the 2nd Annual Downtown Dessert Stroll, marking the largest event so far this year. NPR Main Street organized this event, making it incredibly fun without sacrificing social-distancing. By starting groups on either end of Main Street, strollers were not only socially distanced, but encouraged to visit businesses outside of the downtown core. With over two dozen participating businesses, it was a great opportunity to explore downtown and the business community.
Cotee River Cruise-In
The first ever Cotee River Cruise-In also marked the first major event for Stonehaven at Main (formerly Main Street Landing). More than 50 cars attended, representing everything from muscle cars and sports cars to vintage Beetles and electric vehicles. It was an awesome event that brought the community together at a time when the community needed it.