I spent the morning watching people be busy driving to eat, running in for a coffee, shopping and meeting friends in local businesses downtown Westfield Indiana. They are here and have things to do, but something is missing. Summertime is on us and after we all hid inside during this awful winter you can tell they want to be here and enjoying the amenities that a small growing cities marketplace can offer. I hate to say it but that doesn’t seem to be showing through and as a local small business we wonder what we can do. I have a few suggestions for us downtown cheerleaders to consider and keep in mind as we go about our busy lives.
1. Be present: If you have a business or organization downtown and are looking for success, you need to be open and present. The storefronts and office spaces that look open are busy and look alive.
2. Vibe: I feel like I was blessed with the understanding that people want an experience and to get excited about something you want them to be involved in. Many organizations don’t take that very seriously and a downtown needs it more then any place. The culture and the community aspect are what draws people to buy into a developing downtown and ours is seriously lacking that. We have a handful of restaurants that attempt this but beyond that there is zero community or presence. I can’t say how important this part is…
3. Appearance: Spring screams flowers and grass and outdoor activities but does the downtown. For the most part it does a decent job. Check out the Roy Hadley park and it has begun to blossom, the historical society has beautiful pots out but don’t go south of there. We have to be sure we leave the house each morning with our hair combed and make up on so why can’t we apply that to our business appearance. A few minutes a week can really make a huge different and your audience will enjoy.
4. Show Off: 15,000 visitors, 30,000 residents and 20,000 cars per day is a pretty good bit of traffic. So lets show off to them. We can utilize signage for the people to see or use twitter and Facebook for an online presence, but we need to brag about these great places we have right in our downtown. It’s work I know, but it is work with immediate reward and as hard as it is to stay open in this world, we have been blessed with a built in audience and client base so we had better learn how to use it.
I love my community and hope that it continues to grow organically and as strongly as it has over the past few years, but neglect and the assumption that someone else is going to make it happen for you can really leave their mark.