1950s red dress and jacket setI hear often “our downtown is dead, what can we do about that?” It’s a question many chamber executives ask in rural America.

A Little History

It used to be the county seat was where people came and did their shopping.  Women didn’t work outside of the home so shopping in their downtown was easier to do during the day.  One evening a week families would travel to their county seat downtown, shop, people watch, have a little supper.

With the growth of shopping malls, women working outside of the home, and better transportation there’s been a death of many a downtown.

Pop-Up fairs bring people downtownIt’s A New Age

Yet .. yet we hear about people looking for unique experiences, shopping adventures and more and more people wanting to support their local businesses.  Becky McCray and I have partnered to create a series of online courses to address the question “help my downtown is dead, what can we do?”  Our first foray into the field will be a mini course that every community can take and put into action – The Pop Up Fair.  This course is delivered in four emails, one a week, with complete instructions on how to plan, execute and repeat.   We are also available via email to answer your questions and help in any way we can.

Imagine your downtown on one afternoon/evening filled with artisans, creatives, independent businesses, local businesses,direct marketers, churches and more.  They’ll be selling home grown items, hand made crafts, new and different merchandise. We know it’s only one night.  But it’s one night that kicks off dreams of possibilities.  Local stores made money from people shopping and they’ve met possible partners with ideas for their stores.  The home grown person got a feel for what it’s like to be downtown selling.  The direct marketers will work together to create future craft events.  And the customers got a taste of what downtown could be like.

Now What?

Registration ends Monday, June 15 at midnight CST.  That’s tomorrow.  Simply visit, get the details and sign up.  Your emails will be sent every week starting when you sign up for the course.

Several communities are already receiving the course and planning their first Pop Up Fair.  Jeanne Cole from Waynoka, OK says “Yep we have a date! Saturday September 5. thinking time frame from 1pm to 6 or7 pm. this coincides with the All School Alumni weekend. our small but mighty chamber is solid behind this!”

becky debDon’t wait for the other guy to change things.  Be the other guy!


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