Berryville Main Street Celebrates 25 Years

Guest blogger Sue Ross, Executive Director of Berryville Main Street, has 10 years of Main Street experience and recently returned to Berryville to lead a refreshed program, creating new partnerships and an enhanced marketplace. 

Berryville Main Street turned 25! We celebrated with bluegrass, local food, and friends in a restored downtown dairy barn.  Started in 1992, Berryville Main Street successfully sought Virginia Main Street community designation and National Main Street Accreditation to encourage the growth and revitalization of their small town.

As one of the oldest continuously designated Main Street communities in Virginia, Berryville has seen numerous building improvements, new businesses, job creation, and retail promotions resulting in a revitalized downtown. Successful partnerships include Town and County, community leaders, businesses, area schools and nonprofits.  In 2016, Berryville Main Street was recognized with a Virginia Main Street Milestone Award celebrating more than $30 million in private investment.

Berryville Main Street 25th Anniversary Celebration at the Barns of Rose Hill, February 28, 2017

Berryville Main Street 25th
Anniversary Celebration at the Barns of Rose Hill, February 28, 2017

In these 25 years, many memories have been created with events like Barn and Blue Moon Dances, Monthly and Holiday Craft Markets, Arbor Day clean-ups, Volunteer Brick Awards, and entrepreneurial ventures like the Fire House Gallery.  Berryville Main Street also spearheaded the restoration of the Barns of Rose Hill as a cultural center and visitor center.  Much of this would not have happened without the unfailing volunteer commitment of Susi Bailey, who was recognized for her service to downtown with a handcrafted garden bench from Smallwood Woodworking.

Berryville Main Street has certainly seen the ebb and flow of volunteers, board members, government officials and businesses over the years, but the vision remains constant:  Keep Berryville a vibrant, vital, unique, attractive, and family friendly place to shop, enjoy and live.

Thank you to everyone who has been a champion for downtown and supported Berryville Main Street!

Tell a Compelling Story to Raise Awareness and Revenue

Is your nonprofit telling a compelling story?

The mission of Main Street is to enhance the economic prosperity and cultural vitality of historic downtown districts. To succeed, organization’s must be able to demonstrate real change on the ground with visible improvements AND specific metrics of success. To do this, use positive statistics such as jobs added, new businesses open, reduced storefront vacancies, and, an important one for local revenues, increase in property values.

Main Street Lexington has a great story to tell and the media is taking notice, spreading the word that downtown is “alive and thriving”.

“About 18 months ago, we had 14 or 15 [vacancies],” says Stephanie Wilkinson, Executive Director of Main Street Lexington. “Right now, we have about 2 or 4, depending on how you count.”

170106-lexington-get-downtown-2016

Lexington “Get Downtown” 2016 Event

At a recent training in Lexington, the Virginia Main Street program managers discussed The Storytelling Nonprofit: A Practical Guide to Telling Stories That Raise Money and Awareness by Vanessa Chase Lockshin. Telling a story that can point to specifics will raise awareness, boost program credibility, and inspire advocates and funders to take on the role of hero.  However, finding the balance between reporting quantitative statistics and the qualitative community experience can be a challenge.

Lockshin says, “By telling stories, we can connect donors to the emotional experiences associated with the issues our organizations are trying to solve, and emotions are the gateway to deep, meaningful relationships with donors.”

The book is chock full of practical tips for identifying and inspiring your target audience. “Know your audience” is one of the leading tips for a compelling story.

Lockshin helped write a brief storytelling guide for Network for Good.  Check out this resource to get started >>

BrewDog, Gloucester Wants You!

Guest Blogger Jenny Crittenden, executive director of Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust, started with Main Street in 2006.  Her leadership has inspired key partnerships and implementable growth strategies for Gloucester Village, including the creation of façade and interior improvement grant programs and an annual symphony concert that brings over 2,000 visitors to downtown. 

As we enter the holiday season and everyone is spreading cheer….here in Gloucester we’re thinking beer! 

Over the last few years, I’ve attended National Main Street Conferences and been fascinated with the concept of crowdfunding a project.  The nationally-utilized platform ties together a community in a way that a traditional approach to project funding does not.  We now have the crazy opportunity, through a national competition, to crowdfund a BrewDog brew pub – a whole new amenity to our rural community!  We are always thinking big and there’s nothing we aren’t willing to tackle; including competing on the level of cities such as Houston, San Diego, New York City, or Chicago.brewdogsocial

BrewDog is an irreverent Scottish craft brewer that loves American brew pubs and will be embracing these beacons of beery enlightenment by launching their very own in the United States.  They currently operate more than 46 BrewDog bars globally, from Tokyo to Barcelona, and now they are bringing the very first BrewDog venues stateside as part of the Equity for Punks USA campaign!

Why not Gloucester?  Exactly…why not?  Smaller communities can rally fast, build a grassroots effort, and get buy-in, not just financially, but that entire community-emotional-buy-in.  It’s what makes a small downtown so special.  We may not yet be on the leaderboard, a map that tracks the cities in the contest, but we have BrewDog’s attention.

BrewDog executives have seen our press release in the local newspapers and are watching our Facebook page, seeing that over 1,000 people are talking about the competition.  They even agreed to send a BrewDog representative and personal video message to Gloucester for our upcoming public meeting, for which we flew in beer from Scotland for tasting.  On site we will have laptops and tablets for on-the-spot investment.  We aim to take the leaderboard by storm!

If 500 people invest in BrewDog USA from GLOUCESTER, VIRGINIA, and our local partners, they will open a brew pub HERE!  Minimum investment is only $95.

Contribute and follow our progress >>

 

 

Discover What’s “Wythein:” Downtown Wytheville’s Vibrant New Website

DiscoverWytheinMain Street program websites come in many shapes and sizes.  The challenge is to create a simple and fresh website that promotes the Main Street organization and local brand while showcasing the unique charm of downtown and all it has to offer.

Downtown Wytheville Inc. recently updated their online presence with a website refresh that provides an informative, enticing and interactive experience for the user.  The site offers useful tools and information to its visitors, such as an easy to navigate, interactive map with a wide variety of filters from dining and shopping, to local community resources.  It appeals to entrepreneurs looking to locate in downtown by delivering a welcoming message, business investment guide and information on incentive programs.  It showcases the Main Street program, its mission, and ways to engage in support of downtown; and with mobile devices accounting for an increasing percentage of web traffic, Downtown Wytheville’s website can attractively acclimate to any screen resolution.

Learn more >>

 

 

Staunton Has a Story to Tell: Celebrating 20 years of Main Street

How would your Main Street organization celebrate years of making downtown a social and investment hub?

As a kick-off to their 20-year anniversary, the Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA) hosted “Staunton Stories,” a one-day event to celebrate and document the people that make downtown Staunton a dynamic and diverse community. The event was held at the R. R. Smith Center in March and received almost 70 stories and items of memorabilia. During the event, local residents and business owners were invited to bring up to three original photos or hand-held items that told the story of their connection to Staunton.

The stories, images, and videos collected at the event have become part of the upcoming exhibit and an online archive housed on the SDDA website. “The Staunton Stories Exhibit” is being organized in partnership with the Historic Staunton Foundation, NBC Channel 29, Virginia Eagle Distributors, the Artisan Loft, Flying Warthogs Film and the city of Staunton’s IT Department, with a grand opening that happened on Friday, June 17.

“It is an honor to be part of the 20-year anniversary of SDDA and to honor those people and organizations that make this community thrive,” says Julie Markowitz, director of the Staunton Downtown Development Association. “Everyone is invited to come and celebrate with us at the Artisan Loft, a new gallery space located above the Staunton Antiques Center at 19.”

The Staunton Stories Exhibit is partially funded by a Downtown Investment Grant awarded by Virginia Main Street and is part of a series of activities and special promotions that not only commemorate the 20-year anniversary of SDDA, but are designed to connect the Staunton community to downtown.

Staunton Stories Exhibit Graphic

Staunton Stories Exhibition, June 17- July 31, 2016

Check the local news stands: Virginia Main Street in Southern Living

In the September 2015 issue of Southern Living, you will find a spread highlighting travel destinations across the commonwealth, including a special nod to our beloved Virginia Main Street communities.  Thank you to our partners at Virginia Tourism Corporation.  Web links direct readers to a list of the designated communities and points travelers to the heart of each community, its downtown district.  Turn up that smile and cool down the taps, the neighbors are coming!

Virginia is for Main Street Lovers!

Celebrate Downtown with Virginia Main Streets - September 2015 Issue of Southern Living

September 2015 Issue of Southern Living

 

 

Before, during, and after-event tips for downtown merchants

As a Main Street organization,  gaining the confidence and support of your local merchants isn’t easy, especially when it comes to downtown events.  Closing the street can impede the access of loyal customers  to their favorite shops. Hoards of event guests asking to use the shop’s bathroom can frustrate owners.  It can add up to strained relations with the local Main Street program.

However, downtown events play an important part in showing off all your town has to offer by attracting thousands of people, all of them potential shoppers.  The opportunity for downtown merchants to generate extra income is greatly increased, so a local Main Street program can’t afford to lose the merchants’ engagement.  However, these constituents require an extra-special, pro-active approach.

New Jersey’s Main Street Vineland has done just that with a helpful “how-to” publication for merchants, Making Your Register Heat Up During Downtown Festivities this Summer.  It includes before, during and after-event tips.  For Main Street Vineland, this approach has secured the cooperation of local merchants, stimulated the opening of shops during the event, and brought visitors back to town at a later date to make a purchase. You can get the tips through Main Street Vineland’s website or via the National Trust Main Street Center’s online resources

Similarly, through a discussion group at the recent Virginia Main Street Summer Toolkit: Cultivating an Entrepreneurial Downtown in Franklin, VA, we discussed working with local merchants.  The discussion notes and helpful recommendations are posted on the Virginia Main Street training archive website.  

Use your Main Street network to your advantage and see what brilliant ideas you can borrow for your own program.