Merchants and festivals

I am still thinking about Clifton Arts Festival – how lovely, how nice to be a part of the large event. It was so nice.

Festivals, street fairs, art markets, and the like exist to add spark to mainstreet, wherever that may be.  Some merchant centers get it, embrace it, and fling open wide the doors of businesses lining the streets o f the events, have specials, set up booths themself, or offer some fair/festival deal… whatever the product sold.  Other merchant centers dont get it, and purposefully close early, or tack hastily scribbled signs that say things like “No Bathrooms Available unless you are a customer”.  Or they look upon a street closure and festival as an inconvenience that makes their lives challenging. 

We have done a number of events sponsored by “Mainstreet” groups and they get it.  The Vermillion in Bloom event in late April was one that understood… lots of local stores, greenhouses, and merchants…. welcoming mainstreet shopkeepers, eager to make and keep new customers.  It was a warm and charming experience.

Monthly we do the A Day in the Country Market in Burton, and they get it too… From the fabulous coffee shop to the 50s diner, and all the shops in between there is an excitement to have the crowds visit, linger, soak in small town america, and perhaps spend a few dollars.  But their warm charm compels you to want to stop, and buy that lucious cinnamon roll with a steaming cup of Joe….

Kent’s Masterpieces in Wine and Art Show was another that got it.  Organized by Mainstreet Kent, the merchants were open, smiling, and welcoming to all who strayed off the street and into their place.  Welcoming atmosphere often means an increase in economic outcome.  People want to spend money when they encounter people who are warm, charming, good listeners, and willing to just be people.

While the tents were filled with mostly friendly artists eager to engage, discuss their work, and encourage you to linger this was not the case of some of the merchants on clifton…. many of the storefront merchants were not embracing the throngs of people the event drew, and hung hastily written signs “NO BATHROOM UNLESS YOU ARE A CUSTOMER”, or treated you like an inconvenience when you stopped to buy bottled water.  How much more volume of buisness could you draw with 10,000 plus people parading around on your street.  The restaurants and bars knew this was a good thing… they jumped on it.   So what happened to the other stores?  And would it have been so terrible to fling open doors and invite people in… let that person doing the pee-pee dance use your restroom, or have some sort of deal for festival goers….

Well, I cant control how merchants act, or what decisions they make.  Perhaps those places that were reluctant to embrace the crowds have well established business, and dont need to worry about the economics of staying in business.  For those who got it, thank you.  For those that didn’t and treated event goers with less than great customer service perhaps it is time to evaluate…