September 21, 2011

First Friday is so crowded nobody goes there anymore?

As the downtown merchants, vendors, taverns etc. reflect upon another year of First Fridays there is a small group of folks who want to kill the very  reason for it's success.  Every year a few outspoken members complain about all the people who come downtown to drink rather than to shop. 
When First Friday was created the primary focus was on "Shopping", we had more merchants then and more art galleries, etc. but the reality of the Obama economy is obvious and some of those "hobby" stores have closed. The one sector of our downtown economy that is growing and expanding is the entertainment sector.  (Ironically FF expanded and grew by ADDING entertainment to the event to draw more customers downtown, we have gone from a few thousand attendees, to estimates of over 12 thousand people coming to enjoy a Friday night in Downtown Racine), (Imagine 20 years ago having to worry about 12 thousand people being ANYWHERE in Racine except on the 4th of July!!).  The cure to this "problem" for these big govt. "Nannies" is to inhibit the freedom &  liberty that people are exercising by grabbing a cocktail and wandering around from store to store.  This is NOT a "problem"!!! No merchant in any part of town is REQUIRED to allow cocktails into their stores, nor are they forced to give them away. It's entirely voluntary.  The fact is the Police were asked to look the other way on First Fridays seven years ago and it's not been a problem.  They look the other way on St. Patricks Day, Trollaween, Mardi Crawl, and a few other days.  Additional observations are found @ Free Racine.

I will be working with the downtown tavern and club owners to engage their support in making EVERY Friday and Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day be a "Traveler" night! This just not a real problem,  with outdoor smoking now the norm, why not let people enjoy our city as THE party place on the lake!  The Shops of Downtown and DRC have spent millions of dollars to get people from far and near to come downtown Racine to enjoy themselves and spend some money.   First Friday is a huge success!

As a downtown merchant it is true I seldom actually make a "sale" on FF. but I get probably 30-40% of my sales from exposure on FF.  My product is not usually an impulse purchase for most people. While I sympathize with the merchants who created FF as a "shopping" event..they can't ignore the fact it's become a party night from May to Sept. whether they like it or not. So adjust your life to capture this customer or just don't open up if you can't control the rest of us who are having fun, spending money and supporting our downtown!  Quit whining and start Winning!  Thanks to all of the folks who support downtown every chance you can.  I will continue to try bring Liberty and smaller govt. to Downtown, even if I have to fight the "Nannies"! Some people just don't want to let anyone else have fun.

No comments: