DOWNTOWN IN FOCUS
| 2014 Spring | story by SALLY ZOGRY Executive Director, Downtown Lawrence, Inc. | photos by STEVEN HERTZOG |

Downtown Parade

Downtown has a spring in its step!

There is a lot to be excited about in Downtown Lawrence as we move into spring. Loads of plans are in the works for the spring, summer, and beyond. In the past six months Lawrence, Inc. has enhanced its strong collaborative relationship with the City aswell as with the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau. All three entities are committed to working together to maintain and enhance downtown as a destination and downtown business as a whole. Here are a few updates on some projects and collaborations that they have been working on over the past several months.

After a bustling holiday season, downtown was still glowing all the way through January. Downtown Lawrence, Inc. was successful in lobbying the City of Lawrence and Parks and Rec to keep the beautiful holiday lights up through Valentine’s Day; they received incredibly positive feedback via social media, email, phone calls, and in person. Community members enjoyed their beauty and warmth and said that the lights were welcoming to out of town visitors as well as to commuters returning home. The plan is to request the extended lighting again for the 2014-2015 holiday season and to develop more winter events to take advantage of it.

Since the lights were up downtown threw a party to celebrate and make the most of them, in the form of a new event, “Winter Nights Under the Lights,” held on January 30th. This initiative encouraged community members from across Lawrence as well as out of town visitors to spend time in Downtown Lawrence and enjoy the lights. Forty-two downtown businesses including retailers, personal services, bars and restaurants participated in the event, offering special discounts on regularly priced merchandise, deep postholiday discounts, and food and drink specials. Participants also offered in-store events like free chair massage by Winning Touch Therapy at Phoenix Gallery, hand treatments by The Fix Salon at Goldmakers Jewelry, and yummy treats from The Roost at The Etc. Shop. The addition of family activities at the Watkins Museum and a scavenger hunt with prize drawings in collaboration with Lawrence Kids Calendar were a big hit and added to the all-ages appeal of the event. Next year’s event promises to be bigger and better!

Downtown Parade

Downtown’s “6 Days of Sweetness” Facebook promotion in February was another big hit. The “12 Days of Christmas” Facebook event in December encouraged easy and appealing downtown holiday shopping by promoting a variety of gift ideas. More than 20 businesses like Mass Street Sweet Shoppe, Au Marché, and White Chocolate stepped up to do the same for Valentine’s Day giving. Both customers and merchants applauded the promotion – look for more virtual events like this on the Downtown Lawrence Facebook page in the coming months. A “Downtown Madness in March” Facebook event is on the March calendar as is a “Spring Fling” shopping spree and contest in collaboration with the Lawrence Journal-World.

As spring approaches, look for two new large format downtown maps and business directories. DLI has collaborated with the City and the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau on the placement of a downtown map and business directory in the new Vermont Street parking garage. In addition to the downtown portion, this piece will include a panel on Lawrence’s history and attractions and a citywide map. A new printed downtown business directory and map is being produced in conjunction with this piece and will be distributed by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visitors Center, DLI office, Chamber office, KU Dean’s office, local hotels, and downtown businesses to Lawrencians, visitors, and tourism organizations alike. The new map and directory will be an asset in promoting Lawrence as a destination for tourism, conventions, and meetings, and also encourage patronizing local businesses and exploring downtown. Yet to come is a merchant directory kiosk donated by First Management and Treanor Architects that will be built on the northeast corner of 9th and Massachusetts later this year. Downtown is thrilled with the addition of these wayfinding pieces that will enhance visitors’ experience.

Also in the pipeline are a host of community wide events including Final Fridays, the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 17th, Downtown Professional Shot Put competition on April 18th, the Lawrence Arts Center’s Free State Festival and Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Tour of Lawrence Bicycle Races the last weekend in June, the 55th Annual Sidewalk Sale on July 17th, 8th Annual Lawrence Busker Festival on August 22nd-24th, and the revival of the Downtown Summer Film Festival. There is always something going on downtown –in the heart of the city!

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