Downtown merchants saw mixed results from Main Street Columbus” Downtown Spring Open House event Friday and Saturday, but all agreed they would participate again next year.
Downtown stores offered special promotions and sales during the annual event, which is sponsored by Main Street Columbus, and shoppers registered to win a gift basket with more than $400 of gift certificates and merchandise from more than 15 businesses.
“I feel this year”s open house was a success,” said Main Street Columbus Director Amber Murphree Brislin, noting more than 500 people registered for the drawing at participating businesses. “When I was visiting downtown businesses, all the feedback was very positive, so everyone was in agreement that they had a great weekend.”
“It was very good,” said Geraldine Coleman, an employee at The Purple Elephant. “Our sales were good. It was probably a little less traffic than we thought it would be, but I think the first pretty weekend, people want to be outside in their yards.
“Our sales figures were better than last year,” she added. “We”ve got new spring merchandise in and we also sold a couple of wedding gifts.”
“We were busier with the bistro more so than anything else,” said Dana Borchers, a daughter of the owner of Le Gourmet Cheese and Gift Shop, referring to the restaurant inside the store.
“I think we did fine,” said Ramsey Howard, owner of Gifts, Etc. “We had a lot of traffic. I think (business) was about the same (as the open house) last year.”
“It was pretty quiet,” said Julie Kauffman, owner of Paper Daisy. “But we felt like it was because it was (during) spring break (for area schools).”
“I didn”t see that much response,” said Charles Perkins, owner of Charles O. Perkins Art Studio and Frame Shop, acknowledging the nature of his business precludes a lot of “walk-in traffic.”
“We had real good traffic,” said Susan Mackay, owner of Party and Paper. “We were real pleased with the way sales were. Of course, we had our big sale room and that really generated a lot (of sales). I think in comparison (to last year), we did really good.”
David Richardson, owner of The Paint Store, said he had about the same amount of business as last year”s open house event drew.
But business increased, this year, for Brenda Porter, owner of Fine Consign and More.
“I did real well,” she said. “I did it last year, but this year was a lot better, I guess because people knew where I was. I had a lot of people here from Starkville and Tuscaloosa, (Ala.)”
“We did great,” said Homer Beaty, owner of The Fashion Barn. “We had a great crowd. I can”t complain at all; we”ve stayed covered up.
“We were busy,” he continued. “I couldn”t ask for anything better. I was very blessed. We plan to do it for the whole week next year. We had an increase and every year we”ve been in business, we”ve increased. I think (the open house) is great. The more things we can keep going on downtown, the better we”ll all be.”
“We did good,” agreed Renee Perkerson, owner of Joy”s Gifts and Flowers. “It was a great turnout. We had a lot of people coming through and buying door wreaths. It looks like it”s going to be a good season.”
“Overall, traffic and sales were up from last year,” said Murphree Brislin, noting Debbie Duke, an employee of Dr. Norman Ford, won the drawing for the gift basket. “This can be contributed to many factors, some being the wonderful weather that was definitely in our favor, in addition to the great door prize basket offered, as well as the advertising surrounding the event and the positive community response.
“We are very fortunate that so many in Columbus always support local shops and restaurants and this is also what makes our downtown so special and unique and helps businesses thrive and remain successful,” she continued. “The dedicated business owners” participation also always helps the event to grow. Main Street membership dollars are also a major contributing factor to the development of downtown, in addition to the continuation of all of our Main Street sponsored and downtown events.”
Main Street Columbus offers seasonal open houses in the spring, fall and at Christmas time, as well as other events throughout the year to promote the organization”s mission of enhancing “local culture and quality of life through planning growth, diversification and preservation of the downtown historic district.”
“While many of our retail promotions are strictly to promote downtown shopping and patronage, our larger events are geared to raise funds to continue this mission and to enable us to offer free community events,” said Murphree Brislin. “Our next major event planned is, of course, the 15th annual Market Street Festival, where 40,000 people will fill the streets of downtown Columbus for two days. At no other time do this many people patronize our downtown businesses.”
In addition to the Market Street Festival, which will be held in May, the Columbus Farmers Market is scheduled to open May 15.
The Giant Possum Town Yard Sale, which is the largest fundraiser for the Farmers Market, will be held April 10.
Main Street Columbus also is planning several beautification projects for the next few months.
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