Last night Conway Main Street USA hosted their second annual Snowball Drop. Basically, member businesses wrote discounts and giveaways on ping-pong balls and then dropped them on to a crowd from a raised fire truck ladder.
The Good - The idea itself is quite good. Many small cities host a similar events, with good results. Leading up to the event, most of the major media outlets mentioned it, bringing much needed publicity to the downtown district. And again after the event there was some decent attention received by TV and print media outlets. The small crowd that amassed was welcomed regardless of its size.
The Bad - Timing. Deciding to have the drop at 7pm during the "Crawl" was a poor decision. With the exception of the Halloween Carnival, Thursday "Crawls"(their word, not mine) have faded to being nearly irrelevant. The rain did not help either, but keep in mind that the downpour on the Halloween show did not slow it down at all. Two facts became very apparent last night. One is that the "Crawl" is not working in its current Thursday night format. And two, the people just aren't in holiday shopping mode quite yet. Mark my word, next year drop them on the Sunday Christmas Open House and you'll get the crowd you need. Black Friday would not be a bad deal either.
The Ugly - A lady at the drop said that someone actually snatched a ball right out of her closed hand. What? Then there was the person who opened an umbrella upside down and tried to use it to corral the balls into the 4 foot bowl. Seriously? That's like premeditated cheating, or aggravated shadiness, or something. Shameful, I tell you. Next year we need to spread them out a little more and tell the boys to take the Tasers off safety.
Watch the video below to see the perpetrator with the umbrella.
The State of the ... District
Rumors of new merchants abound and people have been spotted looking at vacant buildings all over downtown. However, we sit at about the same occupancy rate as we did a year ago (bad). While October provided a few economic sparks, business is still soft. Most merchants expect this year to improve slightly over the last two, and the past couple of months seem to be trending that way.
Incoming: We picked up Cool Stuff on Norman Alley, Spa on Main Street, and Rivertown Message & Body Work on 3rd Avenue.
Outgoing: Fat Fancy has a "business closing sale" sign in the window. That was quick, just like the Mexican Restaurant on Laurel. I guess people are looking to test the water and get out quickly if things aren't going well. I can't say that I blame them, a three month test lease would probable save new business owners a lot of $$ and headaches. This is the time of the year that most business will wait until after the holidays to close. I'll be surprised if we announce any more closings this year. I do predict that we'll be losing 2 or 3 in late Winter and early Spring. That's just based on merchant chatter and past experience.
Needed: Toy/Hobby Shop, Hike/Bike & Paddle Shop, Pet Shop, Shoe Store (Family/Affordable).
Don't Forget Christmas Open House is Sunday, November 14th.
Flex that combined social media muscle. Downtown merchants each contribute one super sale or featured gift idea. Then design a flyer that features all of the items in an attractive professional format. Each contributing business will get a digital copy to post to their websites, facebook, twitter, and email newsletters, and print copies to share with customers. I'd guess you could get a combined distribution of 10,000, for FREE. FREE, I said, FREE! If everyone wanted to pitch in some cash, you could get Duplicates to do a direct mailer or put it in the Indy. Call Conway Main Street, Chamber of Commerce, and the Conway Visitor Center first. It kinda sounds like it would be right up their alley. If you don't get any love there, contact me and I'll do it as a Christmas gift.