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Businesses unite

Creating a “unified” downtown will help the Glenwood Springs’ central business district remain competitive with Glenwood Meadows and the Roaring Fork Marketplace. At least that’s what members of the new Downtown Business Association hope. More than 35 downtown business owners and concerned residents piled into the Main Street Gallery Tuesday night, taking the first step to reorganize the association in an attempt to lure tourists and shoppers into stores along Grand Avenue and adjacent streets. This is at least the second incarnation of the association, once a part of the city-funded Downtown Development Authority, which no longer supports marketing and promotions for downtown merchants. The business association will fill in that gap. “I think the goal of the group is to not only get retailers involved but also other business entities” to create a unified voice for downtown businesses, Suzanne Stewart, a Glenwood marketing consultant and the meeting’s facilitator, said Wednesday. “Once that organization is strong and can present a unified voice, I think you’ll see a tremendous amount of power there.”Real estate agent Donna Fell said it’s high time to pull together to create a “unified image” and “step out of ‘this is how it’s always happened.'”Fell and others complained that downtown doesn’t do enough to lure tourists into shops, partially because stores aren’t open late enough. Marble Slab Creamery owner Joseph Haas suggested businesses remain open past 6 p.m., when tourists often do their shopping. He said businesses that close at the end of the standard business day are catering to “the unemployed,” he said. Haas suggested an extra sales tax to fund the association, which would encourage downtown businesses to work together to stay open later and attract shoppers. The tax, he suggested, would be similar to the “public improvement fee” that Glenwood Meadows stores charge their customers. “One or two businesses staying open isn’t going to do it,” Stewart said. Tom Fleming, a Glenwood downtown sustainability consultant, said Haas was correct in suggesting that businesses staying open late is vital to the viability of a downtown. Fleming suggested businesses leave lights on in the evening to help them transition into staying open later. The lights would entice shoppers to come back later. Though it will take a while to create a vibrant downtown in the evening, “it will reach that point where it’s an evening activity center,” he said. Stewart said the association may be funded by dues-paying members and could one day support a part-time administrative employee. She said Sue Sharpe of the Main Street Gallery is the acting president of the association until officer elections are held in January. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10 at a location yet to be determined. Sharpe was out of town Wednesday and unavailable for comment.Contact Bobby Magill: 945-8515, ext. 520bmagill@postindependent.com


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