The creation of the Merchants Committee was announced during last week’s Topics on Tap event. The committee is intended to unite merchants to better work together to improve the downtown area.
Plant City Main Street is furthering its relationships with downtown’s merchants with a new committee, a partnership formed under the common goal of making downtown a better place to shop and play.
The Merchants Committee, a subcommittee of Main Street’s Economic Vitality Committee, was officially announced during the June 23 Topics on Tap event. Jerilyn Rumbarger, Main Street Executive Director, said her organization and local merchants joined forces when they realized they were working toward a similar goal.
“We had gotten word that the merchants were looking into doing something on their own, so Main Street approached them like ‘Hey, why don’t we do a subcommittee off of economic vitality?’ We felt like this falls in line with our vision and mission statement, and then kind of what economic vitality was working toward, which was helping the merchants,” Rumbarger said. “It’s where the Downtown Dollars program was kind of derived from.”
The idea of a downtown merchants committee isn’t new. There was the Plant City Downtown Merchants and Business Association, an independently-run coalition of merchants that functioned similarly to Main Street by promoting downtown businesses with events, sales, marketing and other methods. That association was converted to what is now Plant City Main Street in 2016.
Though the new committee was announced last week, it was actually created well before then. The COVID-19 pandemic singlehandedly ruined the group’s plan for an earlier reveal.
“We actually had planned on launching the committee and talking about it at March’s Topics on Tap on St. Patrick’s Day, but that’s when the whole COVID-19 pandemic really kind of erupted,” Rumbarger said. “So we canceled it and tabled it until we felt it was the right time to relaunch it. We never forgot about it, we just knew we wouldn’t be able to meet with the merchants due to social distancing, quarantining, all that stuff.”
Greg Williams, owner of Brick City Bricks, is chairing the committee and said he hopes it will give merchants a way to amplify their voices even more.
“The main goal was to get the merchants together with Main Street and city so we can all try to work together to make everybody’s businesses a little better,” Williams said.
You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone as creative as Williams when it comes to bringing people downtown. Some of the ideas he’s successfully pitched include celebrations for the Star Wars-themed May the Fourth Be With You and Harry Potter’s birthday, as well as bringing the nationwide Small Business Saturday event to Plant City in November 2019.
The Merchants Committee’s first meeting, scheduled for 8 a.m. July 21 at Krazy Kup, will circle back to Harry Potter’s birthday (July 31) as a way to let downtown merchants and shoppers have some fun. It will be much more challenging this year than in the past thanks to COVID-19, but Williams said it’ll be no different than what the merchants have been used to since the pandemic changed the way everyone operates.
“We just have to adapt,” he said.
The July 21 meeting will be open to the public and all Merchants Committee meetings will be held every other month, trading off with Topics on Tap. Visit facebook.com/PCMainStreet/ close to the meeting day for more information.