Friday, January 24, 2014
Georgetown is going to get a taste of the Big Easy soon. Plans are already in the works to bring back Mardi Gras celebrations to the downtown area.
Parties, costume parades, and King Cakes will abound, all as a part of the Georgetown Business Association's attempt to draw business back to Front Street. Drawing locals and visitors alike down Georgetown's historic waterfront is going to play a key part in revitalizing and rebuilding after last September's devastating fire that wiped out eight buildings along the 700 block.
Over 30 GBA members met Tuesday evening to brainstorm new ways to bring people downtown more often. During the nearly two-hour session, business owners evaluated what has and has not been working for local shop and restaurant owners so far and tossed around new ideas for events like Mardi Gras.
According to GBA's vice president, Peter Mitchell, 2013 Migration Patterns of United Van Lines' Customers list South Carolina as the second most popular in-migration state in America – second only to Oregon. He asked the group how often they had heard Front Street visitors say that they just happened to find their way there.
“There is an audience to capture that is moving our way,” Mitchell said. “We didn't catch any of those people. They stumbled over us.”
He later added that Georgetown does not want to be “best kept secret.”
With that in mind, merchants worked to come up with ideas that will draw people back to Front Street year-round.
One recurring answer was the importance of preparing for events farther in advance so that proper advertising can take place.
“The more we know about what everybody else is doing, the more we can promote it and the better it will be,” Mitchell said.
This past season's Christmas initiative was put together a mere two weeks out. While the holiday events – such as businesses opening on Sundays, entertainment every weekend, and pictures with Santa – were a hit, there was not much time to spread the word.
Bienvenue Home Accents owner Kevin Jayroe said that Sundays were good for him because people were checking out of their hotels in Myrtle Beach and Charleston and passing through on their way home. But he and other merchants agree that the majority of Sunday business was strictly tourists due to the simple fact that locals are used to most small shops being closed on Sundays.
So to keep the ball rolling, downtown merchants want to build on established events like the Winyah Bay Heritage Festival, Bridge2Bridge Run, Wooden Boat Show, Easter Egg Hunt, and summer concert series. They are also looking to add a few new things as well, including the possibility of a Gospel Jamboree, Blessing of the Fleet, and downtown scavenger hunt.
Another popular idea was once a month hosting a special night down Front Street (such as First Fridays or Third Thursdays) for art walks, restaurant tastings, and late shop hours.
For more information on the GBA or to get involved, visit their web site at www.seaportgeorgetown.com.
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