This morning while working on a fundraising solicitation letter to use in my community to revitalize our small downtown district, I came up with a rather lengthy explanation about why merchants and property owners should be interested in revitalizing their downtown district. As hard as it is to believe, many people don't get it, and I am constantly asked, "but what is that going to do for me?
I wanted to share it with buyoutsidethebox.com readers because basically I think you are the kind of people that would get this, because you understand quality of life issues, and you have a hometown, or urban neighborhood somewhere yourself. And while being an online business allows you geographic freedom, you have to locate your office somewhere right? Our main office is located literally in the Old City Hall in our small town of Heber Springs. Like many small towns in America we struggle with issues about how to keep the city center prosperous.
Town centers are much the same way. In the United States our culture has been influenced by our relative youth and abundance of land. The pioneers used to move on to more fertile ground when they felt crowded, or had used up the resources of the land. Since that time we have learned how to replenish soil, as well as replenish the urban areas. This is called revitalization.
If you take a building and keep it up, your repairs won’t be nearly as costly as if you let it go for decades and come back to “catch” up with maintenance, or sometimes we lose beautiful, historic buildings to neglect that should have been a part of our heritage for future generations.
The same goes for town centers. Town centers are more complex, because each building is owned by a different individual or corporation with different goals and values. One thing these property owners have in common though is they want to see the value of their property go up, not down. The city, county and state governments are involved in town centers as well, because of infrastructure, including streets, drainage, power, etc.
Everyone who has ever visited an urban area knows there is a good part of town and a bad part of town. One area is enjoying prosperity, and another is not. It doesn’t matter if the buildings are shiny and new, or old and maintained. Something is taking place in the good part of town. This secret to prosperity is a simple thing called organization. People have simply agreed to cooperate to maintain and upgrade the quality of their urban space, including buildings, streets and other aesthetic amenities. They see the value of their possession.
Consumers have parallel goals that feed into all of this. They are the lifeblood of a community. There are different kinds of consumers. Two identifiable types of consumers are those that live in the town, and those that visit the town. Both want to be able to have an enjoyable purchasing experience. Some are motivated by prices, others are motivated by aesthetics. Customer service, atmosphere, price and value all come into play into this complicated mix.
If you let the town center wither away, it affects the whole community. Consumers are scattered, confused and eventually get chased away to more organized shopping experiences, often far away whether they prefer them or not. Everyone suffers under this scenario: shop keepers, property owners, consumers, bankers, municipal governments, EVERYBODY.
(c) 2006 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved