Backdoor Retailing – Alternatives to Traditional Storefront Sales

Based on many downtown examples, firms with significant backdoor operations are usually stronger and stay in business longer than other firms that rely solely on traditional storefront sales. Moreover, these merchants are not inclined to passively wait for shoppers to come to them. They are more likely than other merchants to be savvy about social marketing conducted both face-to-face and online. This is not to say that they are untouchable by economic down turns. In addition, the reduced dependency on downtown customer foot traffic potentially makes these firms less tied to their downtown locations. Nevertheless, backdoor retailing is a strategy fitting for many downtown businesses and complements a downtown association’s business retention and expansion efforts.

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Public Markets, Street Vendors and Downtowns

Public markets and street vending can help communities revitalize their downtown. Street vending has historically been a large part of the American economy, but went into a period of relative decline following the 1920s. Street vending is now returning as a way to help entrepreneurs create viable businesses because of their low start-up and upkeep costs. Street vending also has positive spillover effects that can benefit existing storefront businesses.

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Revitalizing Downtown Retail – Finding the Right Tenants in a Changing Market

As a result of the economy and changes in the retail market, it is important that downtown tenant recruitment efforts recognize changes in consumers and competition. A generic retail recruitment formula does not work downtown. Carol Gies of 4Insights, Inc. shared her perspectives on this topic at the International Downtown Association 2009 Annual Conference in Milwaukee.

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Helping Downtown Businesses During Difficult Economic Times

This article summarizes some recent insights from various downtown and business development professionals. Their recommendations often involve using this difficult period as an opportunity to implement innovative marketing and operational ideas on both a district and business level.

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Identifying Businesses in Trouble During Difficult Economic Times

Critical to the success of any downtown are the very businesses that adorn its streets. Downtown business districts are defined by their small businesses, employing half of the nation’s workforce and often serving as the livelihood and cultural center of towns all over America. During the current economic crisis, an emphisis on recruiting new businesses to downtown districts has emerged; however, this strategy does no good if current businesses are struggling to survive. Those familiar with economic development stress that the primary importance should be ensuring the success of existing businesses.

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Key Businesses in Vibrant Tourism Towns

As part of a market study for the Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Main Street Program, eight vibrant comparison downtowns were identified to study their business mix and overall downtown dynamics. Downtown leaders from each community were asked to identify businesses that make significant contributions to downtown vitality. Interviews were conducted with owners and/or managers from each of these “key” businesses and short case studies were prepared for inclusion in the Innovative Downtown Business Database. The key businesses identified can be grouped into one of five broad categories. These groups are presented in this article.

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Revisiting the General Store Concept

A focal point of many small, rural towns has long been the local general store: a place for supplies, groceries, a cup of coffee and a gathering place for local residents. Over time many of these businesses have had to close their doors due to a number of factors including increased competition with large, regional, retail giants. In some cases the lack of a general store gathering place has contributed to a decline in the quality of life for many small communities. This has lead some residents and entrepreneurs to work on reviving their local general store. This issue examines the role that general stores play in enhancing the quality of life in small rural communities.

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