During a meeting Tuesday night, advocates of downtown Plant City gathered to discuss how to make downtown flourish during the upcoming Small Business Saturday.
Leaders from a variety of downtown Plant City businesses and organizations gathered Tuesday evening at Brick City Bricks to discuss the upcoming Small Business Saturday.
For years, groups have struggled to determine how best to highlight the many hidden gems lingering in nooks and crannies throughout downtown. Main Street took up the gauntlet last year for Small Business Saturday, partnering with American Express to have a day of promotions and giveaways in historic downtown. Many business owners, however, said they really didn’t see much of an impact from the event. So this year, Main Street turned to downtown’s secret weapon: Greg Williams.
Williams, owner of Brick City Bricks, has redefined the grassroots movement downtown. When he comes up with an idea — whether that be for downtown to celebrate May the Fourth Be With You or to throw a block party in honor of Harry Potter’s birthday — he walks around to each business downtown and pitches the event. Usually, everyone hops on board and the results have been beyond impressive.
Tub Treats sold out of its Death Star soaps. The Kandy Shoppe’s doors revolved all day as people flocked to buy a plethora of chocolate frogs. When one business benefits, all of them do, Williams said, so why not band together to help make downtown a destination?
“Main Street is about downtown revitalization,” Yvonne Fry, a Main Street board member, said. “The history of this has been that Plant City had a downtown merchants’ association that frankly was challenging at times. They did great things, but there was a season for that. So when the time came, Main Street was brought back and Main Street is more than just the merchants… Greg at times has stepped up of his own volition and has been the quarterback of downtown.”
Williams agreed to do the footwork and help Main Street come up with a plan to make this year’s Small Business Saturday, which will be held Nov. 30, a success for everyone with a storefront downtown. He’s already begun to reach out and many of the businesses in the historic downtown corridor have pitched their support for the event. So far, Williams said, no one has turned him down and with Main Street’s aid they plan to make this downtown’s biggest year yet.
To entice people to shop local and take the time to really visit their downtown businesses, the plan is for there to be a map of downtown marked with every participating location. Each business will have a jar, a box and a pad of paper for people to write their information on. Inside the jar will be a variety of items. For Brick City Bricks it will be LEGOs, For Krazy Kup, it’s coffee beans. Each person that comes in can jot down their information and their guess of how many items are in the jar on the paper, then put the slip in the box.
At the end of the day, the businesses will determine who their winners are and then the closest guess is sent to a grand prize pot. There’s where simple math comes into play. If you go to all of the participating businesses, you will have a higher chance of winning the grand prize. The more you guess correctly — or if you are the closest guesser — the more your odds go up.
Each participating business will submit an item or gift card for the grand prize, which Williams expects to total around $1,000 worth of merch. One lucky winner will take home the pot and, in turn, businesses will see flocks of people all day long. It’s a win-win. While the details are still being hashed out, it already appears as if the event is well on its way to being a game-changer for downtown.
If the collaborative efforts succeed, merchants will kick off a push for shopping downtown for the holiday season on the day of its event. Between the restaurants and shops, they hope families will come and spend the day downtown rather than head to a mall for their frantic holiday shopping. They’re already coming up with ways to pull customers in, whether that be with discounts, giveaways, advent calendars or even an “Elf on the Shelf” scavenger hunt.
With a smile, Williams and several of the attendees jokingly sang along to the LEGO Movie theme song: “Everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”